When we looked at the marketing mix in previous blogs we talked more about actual products, but can the marketing mix work if you perform a service as your business? First thing we need to do is set the stage by looking briefly at the five characteristics that make a service: Lack of ownership, Intangibility, Inseparability, Perishability and Heterogeneity. I can see you scratching your heads so let’s spend a little time discussing these.
Characteristics of a service
Lack of ownership-You don’t own a service and you can’t put it into storage like an actual item. Services are used or hired. For example, a painter comes to your house to give the outside a fresh coat of paint. His service lasts until he finished. While you now have a good looking house, you cannot take the painter’s work home with you.
Intangibility- You are not able to hold or touch a service like you could a can of paint. A service is something that the customer experiences. Experiences are not physical things.
Inseparability-You cannot separate the service from the service provide. If you sold widgets, people could buy one and take it home. But you need the service provider to do what you need done. You needed the painter to paint your house.
Perishability-Services last a specific amount of time and you can’t store it to use later. Think electric company. You can’t save the electricity although you can save money by taking certain measures. Your electricity started on a certain date; and if you don’t pay your bill, it will be cut off on a certain date.
Heterogeneity-Businesses have systems and procedures they follow to provide consistent service, but is very hard to make each service experience the same. It’s like two identical plane trips may be different because of things like the weather and the screaming baby that are beyond the airline’s control.
Opening a different can of Ps
Now that we have established concrete characteristics of a service let’s see how we can apply it to our marketing mix. We have done the first four Ps to death. So we won’t review those here. Instead let’s look at a slightly different set of 3 Ps from the ones we looked at in the last blog. These Ps are Process, Physical evidence; and, once again, People.
Process-This part of the service marketing mix looks at the systems that deliver the service. Have you ever worried that your old credit card was going to expire and that you had to do something before that happened? Then you automatically got a new one with the same number before it was too late? You were probably ready to go to the bank and kiss a teller. All services need to be underpinned by clearly defined and efficient processes to avoid confusion and promote consistent service. The customers will tell others about how great the service they get at that bank.
Physical Evidence (Physical environment)-Physical evidence talks about where the service is delivered from. If you are a retailer offering a service and people go to your store this P of the marketing mix is very important. It is what distinguishes your business from your competition. Take this example for a minute, if you have a restaurant that smells unclean and looks dirty, people aren’t going to stay there to try your service. On the internet, if your website looks unprofessional, clients will keep searching.
People-Here we have a familiar P from our previous marketing mix article with the 7 Ps. People in this instance refer to the people doing the service in your organization. This is where customers will come and judge whether they want to do business with you or not. Your staff needs to have the right interpersonal skills, aptitude, attitude, and knowledge of the service to deliver quality service. Hiring and training come in to play as before.
In a way managing services is more complicated than managing products. Products can be standardized while it is harder to do that with a service. For this reason knowledge about the last three Ps of the marketing mix are so essential.
Are you using this list of final 3 Ps in your service business? Did you read anything here that you didn't know? Please leave your answers in the box below.
Jaco Grobbelaar is the owner of BroadVision Marketing. BroadVision Marketing works with business owners to put in place inbound and outbound marketing strategies that consistently secure new clients. The BroadVision Marketing Training Center is located in Petaluma, CA and primarily serves companies in the San Francisco Bay area.