This article will focus on the exciting and dynamic world of services marketing. The services industry accounts for 80% of GDP in the UK, an astonishing figure!
Restaurants, holiday resorts, theme parks, zoos, hair salons, cinemas, music concerts, train journeys, flights, or even a night out at the bingo - these are just a selection of services!
Providing a service brings about its own unique set of marketing challenges… So how should companies effectively market their service?
Inside this article, you will discover ideas associated with services marketing including communications, the service experience, technology and blueprints.
Effectively communicating your service offering to your target audience is absolutely-key. Unlike the marketing of products, with services, there are more barriers because consumers often cannot see or use the service before they commit to purchase. If you want to purchase a new car, you could take it on a trial run. If you were interested in buying a new games console but you weren’t sure which one, you could borrow a friend’s. However, you can’t take a bite of your spicy root and lentil casserole and move on to another restaurant!
Because of this, effectively marketing your service becomes even more important. Communicating the brand, its personality and the services is key to raising brand awareness and increasing sales.
In today’s digital universe, a strong website with engaging content and strong imagery is vital. Using a restaurant as an example, a well-designed website with photography of the food and drink can communicate the quality and quantity of the offering and is likely to sway potential consumers. Emails and social media can help support the website and drive traffic with competitions and promotional offers!
Music. Lighting. Fragrances. Decoration. In the marketing world, these are called “servicescapes”, the physical environment where consumers interact with the service.
Why is this associated with marketing I hear you ask? Because marketing is about consumer perception, and making sure that the consumer’s experience ties in with their expectations. The brand personality evoked via marketing communications needs to be congruent with real-life experiences.
For example, in theme parks, it is often the marketing department who select music for the rides and attractions. For a thrill ride, intense and foreboding music is often used to build excitement and induce a psychological reaction; but it must tie in with the ride’s branding.
In a restaurant, the menu’s design and tone of voice needs to reflect the style and theme of the restaurant to help build a congruent, strong brand image.
Within services, blueprints are vital. Blueprints are a detailed process of what happens, by whom, and at what point. These are usually devised by the operations team, but marketing must have a say! How do you want your sales’ team to speak with clients, at what point should the waiter ask guests if they would like a drink, are your zookeepers going to give visitors the opportunity to pet the animals?
These interactions form part of the user-experience which effects consumer perception and, therefore, should be driven by the marketing department, via its market research and the brand image it aims to portray.
A well-structured blueprint can help to reduce the adverse effects of variability, the difference between one service encounter and another.
That new restaurant you’ve found… you think you’ve unearthed a gem! The first time you went with a few friends, everything went swimmingly, you were taken to a table straight away, the drinks were prompt, the main course spot-on, the waiter even laughed at your cheesy joke. A few days later, in an attempt to impress your date, you know just the place to go…
This time, however, you were left waiting around, the drinks were late, the food was cold, and your cheesy one-liner was met with a raised eyebrow, and a rather swift exit, from the waiter (hopefully!)
Think about how the guest would evaluate each of these experiences. The timings are out and the contrast in experience is stark. This is why blueprints, detailing exactly what happens, by whom, and at what point, are absolutely vital in providing a quality service experience, making sure that your visitors come back for more.
Finally, we will discuss the integration of technology within the service experience. Ticket booking systems are a must for any sizeable attraction or event. A workable ticket booking system that people are able to use is vital. How often are you left in a mixed-state of confusion and frustration by a poorly designed or overly complex booking system? For me, this happens pretty frequently! Its functionality effects people’s perception of your brand. The system’s architecture needs to be accurately designed, otherwise people get annoyed and, at worse, leave your website for a competitor.
Mobile apps are also integral to many service offerings. The big theme parks have official apps to keep visitors up to date on queue times, whilst aquariums provide educational, interactive updates to keep the keen informed during their visit!
So, we have discovered that services marketing encompasses lots and lots of detail that impacts on a consumer’s knowledge and experience of service providers!
Servicescapes are important in setting the tone and enhancing the user’s experience. Furthermore, websites, email and social media help to promote the brand. Flexible, efficient ticket booking systems encourage sales, whilst mobile apps can support service encounters, maximising the visitor experience.
Here at CSI Media, we get really excited when developing websites and apps for service providers. We have lots of experience developing beautiful, responsive websites for a range of industries including campsites, tour operators and travel agents. Our websites always deliver beyond expectations. We don’t just develop a piece of code, we try to understand the business and marketing objectives, the brand personality and the entire consumer experience, to make sure that your customers get a seamless, efficient digital experience that reflects well on your brand… Excellent service!