Working as a sales representative is not a walk in the park. A salesperson must possess fantastic communication soft skills and an understanding of the products, the market, and the customers. However, there is a real issue when we start talking about service marketing.
Since services are usually not something tangible, there is a special set of skills required for presenting and selling them.
Hopefully, this guide to service marketing will help you understand every important aspect of it.
Furthermore, it should help you improve your business, retain old customers and acquire new ones!
What is service marketing?
As stated above, negotiating a sales deal for service marketing requires special communication skills.
Being intangible, services include a lot of different aspects, like customer experience and satisfaction. There is no physical product to be transferred from a seller to a buyer.
The entire process includes creating a brand, developing and promoting services, working on the distribution channels, pricing, sales, etc.
With that in mind, it is important to cover all the essential elements of service marketing.
Essential elements of service marketing
There are more than 40 essential elements of service marketing. Understanding all of these is a process that requires a lot of on-the-job experience.
Nevertheless, there is a lot of theory that we can cover in order to make this more understandable for you.
Branding and brand awareness
Even though branding is not the first step in the process, it is important to understand it in order to see the bigger picture.
Creating a brand out of a company means establishing a well-known identity that will be easily recognizable by the customers. Raising brand awareness is an important step, and it should be done on multiple levels.
When someone sees your logo, they should know the name of the company. Or, if someone mentions a service you are providing, people should immediately think about your brand. At this point, service marketing becomes an automated process.
For example, a good way to raise brand awareness is via citation building for local SEO. Any mention of a company name, website address, phone number, or any other detail increases the search index for your brand.
Consequently, your customers will find you more often in their search queries.
Talking about distribution channels is as important as anything else.
Here are some of the most common distribution channels of service marketing:
- retail – when a company opens a chain of stores.
- partners (retail) – when a large service manufacturer makes sales through retail partners. International partners sell products and services through foreign retailers.
- personal sales – a company sells its services directly to the customer via personalized events.
- E-commerce – used when selling Cloud services; in general, done via a website.
- direct mail sales – a company sells its catalogues to a list of its customers via e-mail
- value-added reseller – when company A partners with company B, who uses services of company A only as a part of their own services. For example, an IT company might partner up with a major online security brand.
- sales agent – a person who works as a salesperson for a service developer
As you can see, there is a variety of distribution channels a company can use. The most important factor in picking the best channels for you is to see which ones have a high percentage of success in your area of expertise.
Promoting services is another essential part of service marketing. Knowing the best way to raise awareness and educate your clients about what you are offering is the key to success.
It can be done as a part of raising brand awareness, advertising, mass marketing, public media, and other communication channels, public and private events, etc.
The entire process is dependant on targeting and re-targeting audiences, establishing promotional objectives, observing the demand of the market and the customers, and figuring out the best promotional channels.
Pricing strategies and principles
Setting the most effective price is an art in itself. Balancing company profit with customer retention requires a lot of research, planning, and strategic thinking. Customers are sensitive to prices but at the same time, the company cannot suffer any losses because of that.
There are multiple pricing models, each fitting to the unit of measure and how it is being sold:
- flat pricing – a flat fee per unit of measure, can be a one time charge or a recurring one
- tiered pricing – includes different charges, usually depending on the usage, number of stores, etc.
Furthermore, prices for a service can be applied on the enterprise level, per site, per transactions. Also, billing time can be monthly, annually, quarterly, and it can be in arrears or in advance.
For example, some companies that sell Cloud services may have prices for basic packages, but they can also have an A La Carte package pricing.
Finally, in the end, we have the sales process. We already talked about different distribution channels, which are, in fact, sales channels.
However, actual sales are done by people who need training and experience, no matter what distribution channel you use.
One of the crucial points is having good communication between sales, quality assurance, billing and invoicing team, product management, marketing management, and all other teams that work together on a project.
A closing word
Service marketing is a topic that can be discussed on length.
The strategies and technologies used in service marketing evolve at a fast pace, and it is of utmost importance that you stay up to date with the newest information in the industry.
Customers are changing as well, and that consequently changes everything, since all businesses revolve around customers.
With that in mind, keep researching different strategies for service marketing, as it is the key to a successful business!
Shristi is the Chief Content Officer at Raletta. She enjoys writing about food, fitness, finance and everything in between.