In my last series of blog posts I wrote about what it takes to build a Successful Service Marketing™ program. To review, I described the strategic concepts of service marketing and introduced you to the 7 Ps. These are of course very important concepts. However, there are a few more concepts you’ll need to master if you are going to win at service marketing. If you’re going to be successful at service marketing or any kind of marketing, even if it is product marketing, you have to have good knowledge of your market. You get that knowledge through market research. If you know who buys, what they buy, and why they buy then you can sell more to them and get them to buy more often.
Market research also provides the insight needed to communicate effectively with your current and prospective customers. It helps determine what messages, what images, what ideas will resonate with them and get their interest to want to buy from you. Marketing is about taking a need and converting it into a want. You may need a watch to tell time but you want a Rolex because of the status and prestige associated with owning one. So when you have really good market research of who buys, what they buy and why buy, then you can construct your message in such a way that you turn a need to a want. In the field service world, you customers may need to know that they can get service on their equipment when it is down but what they really want is a guaranteed Service Level Agreement with a 4-hour response time.
Good market research not only helps in creating a service portfolio your customers really want but it helps in developing an optimal pricing strategy for that portfolio. Chances are that you are familiar with cost plus and competitive pricing strategies. With cost plus pricing, you calculate what it costs to deliver service and then mark it up by an amount to cover you profit. With competitive pricing strategies, you conduct market research to find out what your competitors are charging and then price your services at a lower amount.
A third type of pricing strategy is called value-in-use pricing. It basically involves measuring the economic value or loss to the customer of not having the service available in a timely manner. This can be significant. For example, a manufacturing facility may lose millions of dollars every hour its machines are down. Therefore, they may be willing to a pay premium for faster service. Market research can help you understand your customers’ value-in-use and determine whether or not you should pursue a cost plus, competitive, or value-in-use pricing strategy. You’ll need to understand all three pricing strategies and how to effectively leverage market research to maximize service revenue and optimize profits.
The final aspect that you have to master to win service marketing is called ‘‘Invisible Selling”. This is based on the premise that you win business not by pushing your offers onto prospects, but by pulling customers towards you. One of the ways you pull customers to you is through indirect marketing as opposed to direct selling. What’s an example of indirect marketing? It’s an article or white paper that demonstrates that your company understands the problems that companies in your market are experiencing and that you have solutions to these problems. It’s about using social media and public speaking opportunities to influence others to want have a conversation with you to learn more about what you do, and how you can help them. It’s about positioning you and your company as experts and trusted business partners. By the way, seeding your thought-leadership content with market-research data is a sure-fire way to build credibility with current and prospective customers. Once you establish credibility they follow you and then it’s only a matter of time until they become your customers.
When you put all the elements of a Successful Service Marketing™ program together, when you fully understand the strategic concepts of service marketing, when you effectively apply the seven principles of service marketing, when you learn how to optimally price your services, when you use market research effectively, and implement an invisible selling strategy, you’re going to experience incredible results. Your marketing program will be extremely successful, your sales will take off, and your business will skyrocket.