Service Marketing is simply defined as a phenomenon wherein a service or an intangible commodity is promoted and marketed among the target audience. A novel kind of marketing, service marketing has become quite prominent in helping companies promote services around the world.
Service Marketing reflects on the way a type of service is promoted in the market. Though service marketing is a unique concept, it calls out for an intangible representation of commodities (services).
As opposed to Product Marketing that involves a physically visible product being promoted over various media, service marketing calls for the promotion of a service that is not physically available but is still sold out to the customers.
Activities, benefits, or facilities, services are simply extended as a commodity to customers who choose from a varied nature of services. An example of service marketing can be- when a family arrives at a restaurant, they avail of the services (dining) while they are the restaurant.
"Don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment with your marketing.” -Mike Volpe
In return, they pay for the services they have availed and perhaps consume an intangible commodity. From transport to education, the world has been wrapped up by services that tend to serve the common masses in one way or the other in recent times.
The global sphere has eventually emerged as a service hub, providing multiple services to the customers who are present worldwide.
(Suggested read: What is affiliate marketing?)
Features of Service Marketing
Service Marketing is a comparatively newer concept than the concept of marketing itself. While you have been through a short introduction in the previous segment, here are some characteristics of service marketing to help you have a better understanding of the topic.
Service Marketing focuses on an intangible performance more than anything else. A service is a performance rather than a product that can be consumed.
Moreover, it is an intangible commodity that the masses avail themselves of. Invisible and intangible, services are simply different than a product. This calls out for a different kind of marketing strategies that promote an unseen service yet through the lens of performance, marketers do that well.
Thus, service marketing is nothing more than a representation of an intangible performance that the common masses avail themselves of in their day-to-day lives.
For instance, the hotel industry has no products to sell but services. So, the industry promotes and performs an intangible service through various advertising means to reach out to the masses.
No Ownership Involved
Unlike product marketing wherein the audience is subjected to product ownership, service marketing does not reflect on such promises. This is because a service can be consumed and not owned.
One can, for example, consume the dining experience at a restaurant as compared to a pencil that one can own in the case of product marketing. This characteristic in particular highlights the amount of hard work that service marketing officials have to put in order to attract the customers.
“Treat the customer like you wanted to be treated. Period!!!" -Brad Shweig
Unlike products that last long, a service is prone to perish within a very short period of time that makes it to be termed as a perishable product. This is because as long as a customer is present at the venue, a service lasts for that amount of time.
After that, it simply becomes a memory that one can only think of! Since a service is an easily perishable product, many people from the audience are not convinced easily. Still, the service marketing features perishable products and promotes them in some way to call out for the target audience.
Cost of Consumption
Unlike the cost of products that is broadly standardized, the cost of consumption of a service is not standardized at all. We can understand this with the help of an example.
A 1-star restaurant is likely to provide its services at a low price with cheap quality. However, at the same time a 5-star restaurant will provide the same services with a refined quality and better experience. The difference between the services can be varied and vast.
Perhaps there is no standardized cost of consumption in service marketing. This is why services are not standardized in terms of cost. The cost of consumption in service marketing becomes a major highlight in order to promote a service.
A way to promote a service is a way to promote your brand. This means that a service is inseparably interesting that cannot be severed from the producer. Yet it calls for the target audience to avail themselves of a specific service and enjoy to their fullest.
As compared to a product that can be physically owned by the customer, a service is an inseparable entity that should seem interesting enough for the audience to consume. For instance, a service at a beauty salon is inseparable from its producers.
Since you visit the venue and avail of the services at the salon itself, there is nothing you take away from the salon in physical terms. Thus, the service is inseparable. Yet the service seems to interest you because it is a commodity that leads you to a better lifestyle. Therefore, service marketing features a service as an inseparably interesting commodity.
(Must check: B2C Marketing Strategies)
Types of Service Marketing
Moving on, one should know about the marketing strategies that the service sector focuses on while promoting its services. Yet before learning that, one should learn the types of service marketing so as to get a better understanding of the concept altogether.
Types of services marketing
External Service Marketing
The first type under the classification of service marketing- external service marketing refers to the promotion of services in an external environment where the company promotes its services to the customers.
This type recommends the promotion of services through various traditional techniques like pricing, product, and purchasers.
The external service marketing focuses on the promotion of services in the external atmosphere (company-customers) so that the services are availed of and consumed well.
As the external service marketing professes the traditional techniques of promotion, here are some elements of service marketing mix.
Service marketing mix
A marketing mix refers to a combination of components that should be included while a product/service is being marketed.
Commodity- commodity, or a service, should be presented well and in detail. Unlike a product that can be advertised clearly, a service becomes more unspecific to promote.
Yet the commodity as a whole is advertised across various media in order to grab the attention of the target audience.
For instance, a service marketing advertisement for a bank does not mean that the target audience has to purchase the bank.
Rather it simply means that the banking service is what the audience is liable to purchase. In this case, the banking service has to be promoted as a commodity or a facility for the target audience.
Cost- As we have already read, the cost in service marketing is not standardized. The cost of this commodity rather varies from service to service and so, there is no standard range of cost for the customers to choose from.
For example, a restaurant can offer a dining experience of INR 500 or even INR 5000. This is because the services include a wide variety of facilities like dining, bar, location, etc.
Thus depending on the kind of experience one avails themselves of, cost can be a variant yet an essential component of the marketing mix.
Customer- The third component of the service marketing mix, customer is indeed the topmost component.
While the cost and commodity highlight the service and its details, the concept of customer represents the purchaser or the buyer who is ultimately going to avail himself/ herself of the product.
This means that while marketing a service, one has to be very careful about reaching out to the target audience in an attractive yet adequate manner.
Since the customer is at the receiving end, one has to be very careful about the features and specifics of a service in order to strike the right chord with the customer and his/ her needs and demands.
(Recommended blog: 4P’s of Marketing)
Internal Service Marketing
The second type of service marketing, Internal service marketing focuses on the promotion of a service within the company (company-employees).
This means that the promotion of the service takes place internally so as to make the employees understand the whereabouts of a service and help them propagate the information in a better manner.
The internal service marketing focuses on the employees more than the customers since the employees are an integral part of the marketing chain.
It is highly crucial that the employees within a company are well-versed with a service so that they are able to spread the word ahead and help the company promote its services on a wide scale.
Interactive Service Marketing
While service marketing largely involves a company promoting its service to the customers, there is a lot more to service when it comes to this type of marketing.
As a product is absent from this marketing chain, a service is instead promoted. In order to provide a service, the company officials are required to be humble and kind towards the customers.
Perhaps technical service is also a very vital component that calls for the third type of service marketing- Interactive Service Marketing. Herein, the service promotion takes place between the employees and the customers (employees-customers).
As the name itself suggests, interactive marketing in service marketing involves the employees interacting with the customers in order to promote the services of their company.
For instance, the chain of hotels Taj Hotels intends to promote its services to the target audience. Here is a brief representation of the types of service marketing it will include in order to achieve its goal.
The company will first produce advertisements that will highlight the services that the chain of hotels offers to its customers (External Service Marketing).
Then on, the company will internally promote its services in order to make its employees well-versed with the services that it offers so that they become active at promoting and participating in service marketing (Internal Service Marketing).
Lastly, the employees of the company will interact with the customers when they actually avail themselves of the service.
This will involve the employees serving the customers through a variety of administrative and qualitative services (Interactive Service Marketing).
This way, the company will carry out its service marketing stint.
To sum it up, service marketing is a concept wherein a company promotes its services that are intangible, inseparable yet perishable in nature. Through an array of initiatives, service marketing is carried out in light of the emerging global service sector.
(Also read: Marketing Analytics)
Moreover, service marketing is much different than product marketing and involves a variety of features to be kept in mind. The importance of service marketing has grown immensely in recent times as more and more services like education, banking, hospitality, etc. are emerging as popular commodities.