Marketing today allows for many different approaches to attract and engage customers. Using a combination of social media marketing and content marketing in conjunction with other marketing has proven quite effective.
Add to the mix the old stalwart – email marketing – and it creates a cross-platform, multi-tiered effect that touches the target audience multiple times within a short period of time… and at times, almost simultaneously.
But how does this frequently recommended combination of marketing work for service and product-service businesses?
Before moving forward, let’s understand the difference between the two business models.
Plain and simple, a service business is one that performs tasks for the benefit of its customers. These tasks can include house cleaning, home maintenance, personal fitness, and bookkeeping.
A product-service business has an added twist – product. It is a company that offers a service AND a product as its practice. It can refer to many different types of businesses across various industries, albeit a common defining factor is the integrity of the product being only as good as the quality of service backing the product.
Depending on the type of service or product-service being provided, businesses can work with their customers in person or online, typically performing a consultation with their customers before beginning work. This consultation is essentially part of the sales process.
Jeff Bullas, whom Forbes calls a top influencer of Chief Marketing Officers and the world’s top social marketing talent has written, in the ever-changing world of marketing, businesses are always on the lookout for new, and innovative ways to sell their products to a broader audience. At times, service-centric companies find themselves overlooked in a sea filled with organizations advertising products.
Well, simply put, marketing a service is no easy feat. The most obvious problem being the lack of physical evidence – how do you promote something that isn’t tangible? How do you convince an individual to invest their time and money in an object that they can’t see or feel? The grey area that lies between selling the invisible is precisely where the great conundrum of the marketing world lies.
Marketing a product-service is equally difficult because it has much the same challenges as marketing a service because it is the delivery of [quality] service that is necessary for a customer to enjoy the benefits of the product. However, a product-service does offer distinct advantages such as tangibility, separability, durability, transferability, etc. which a service-only offering lacks.
Whether marketing a service or a product-service, it’s essential to develop a plan that covers everything from determining which media should be utilized to how the plan will be executed to evaluating results to determine if goals have been achieved by virtue of the plan.
As such, service and product-service business owners must:
- Explore the various digital media available.
- Identify their targets along with identifying where they congregate AND communicate online.
- Develop a strategy based upon the targets (which may actually require sub-strategies for each target and their online communities).
- Execute the plan including dedication of financial AND human resources in managing and monitoring activity.
- Analyze and quantify results in order to continue moving forward or adjusting as necessary.
Yes, that’s a lot to grasp but it is essential to developing an effective marketing program, and one that will attract AND engage today’s consumer, one that is more sophisticated and technologically advanced than ever before. They expect a business to have a digital presence.
Basically, what I’ve described is E-IDEA, which is something we utilize religiously in our marketing efforts at Acceler8Success Group – Explore, Identify, Develop, Execute, and Analyze. It really is a great, simple guide to follow.
It starts with exploring digital media that provides the best way to attract AND engage today’s customers. Of course, social media immediately comes to mind, and it should.
But let me be clear, social media is not the silver bullet many want and expect to make the sales process easier, or even to generate consumer interest on its own.
Instead, social media should be looked at as a vital complementing component to be utilized in conjunction with the traditional marketing. It should provide a support mechanism that target audiences can be directed to and that they may also find on their own.
Today’s consumers are also more diligent and cautious than ever before. That’s where the true benefits of social media come into play as it allows them to virtually stand next to a company and experience how that company interacts with its customers, franchisees, etc.
Social media can also be utilized as a way to drive consumers to a specific event like a live on-site event or even to an informative webinar or podcast where the product offering can be explained in detail.
The key here is that one-size-fits-all strategies with social media do not work effectively. An integrated approach is certainly more effective.
However, it’s critical for business owners to ask questions at the onset of utilizing social media related to their own expectations and desired results. This is crucial in evaluating whether or not the program has worked. As important as click-thru’s, insights, impressions, etc. are in analyzing the process and program itself, looking at desired results against actual results is really the true Social Media P&L.
Business is personal.
People want to do business with people. They buy from people. Sure, the business name may get them in the proverbial door, but it’s the person representing the business that they want to do business with.
So, as it’s not uncommon for consumers, especially today’s consumers to check out the company’s presence on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Pinterest and/or You Tube. It’s also not uncommon for them to check out social media of the owner or salesperson. Interestingly, they have a keen eye for a salesperson’s name and that of the business owner on review sites.
What they hope to find is are people of experience and integrity. The higher the price tag of the service or product-service being purchased, the more the likelihood of a consumer’s due diligence expanding beyond a cursory look. They prefer to do business with people they believe they can trust.
I don’t think that it can be argued that companies whose key frontline salespeople with strong personal branding wouldn’t be significantly stronger than an organization that is essentially faceless. The same can be said of the business owner, as well. Actually, the more visible he or she is, the greater the presumed credibility of the business.
Success for service and product-service businesses takes considerable more planning and effort than that of other business models – ones that are truly faceless such as a retail store or a fast food restaurant, or even Amazon!
Now, I’m not degrading the efforts of those businesses that obviously strive for 100% customer satisfaction and have processes in place to ensure the same. But with a strong personal brand that reaches into the local community, service and product-service business owners and their salespeople, with a strong marketing plan to attract AND engage customers, would be more successful driving sales for the business than otherwise.
Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!