Are you aware of the "3 forgotten P’s of marketing"? If your business offers services to its customers, you should definitely read on.
The four P’s, a staple of the marketing world, touch on a few important factors to consider when developing a marketing strategy: product, price, promotion and place. What it is that you’re selling, for how much, how you will promote it and where you will sell it.
These four P’s are important, but they’re not what this article is about. Instead, we’re going to talk about the three often forgotten P’s of marketing which apply specifically to service businesses: people, process and physical environment.
Service businesses vs. product businesses
Service-centric businesses are very different from product-centric businesses, so it makes sense that they each have unique considerations when it comes to marketing. Unlike products, services are intangible, perishable, and their production, purchase and consumption are often concurrent.
Many businesses offer both products and services. Take a restaurant for example. The food is the product, but everything else involved in the experience is a service: the quality of the hostessing and serving staff (people), how quickly the food is served (process), and the restaurant’s ambiance (physical environment).
What exactly are the three P’s of service marketing?
While the original four P’s still apply to service businesses, these additional aspects are equally as important. In this section, we will cover some details and examples of the three forgotten P’s.
Who provides services to customers? In most cases, it’s people. The quality of the service being provided by a company’s people largely contributes to the customer’s overall experience, which is why many service-based businesses view their employees as an investment.
When it comes to the people aspect of a service business, there are two types of marketing involved: internal marketing and external marketing.
A great service business realizes that in order to offer customers the best experience possible, its employees must be on board, which requires internal marketing. This is why service businesses are usually prepared to invest additional time and money to ensure that their employees are well-trained and engaged.
External marketing involves the interaction between employees and customers. This is where elements like training, sales scripts, and employee image come into play.
Seeing It In Action
One great example of this here in the Okanagan is the staff at Hotel Eldorado Restaurant. Not only do the staff offer excellent customer service, but the matching uniforms that Csek Creative created offer an appearance of professionalism, cleanliness and teamwork.
Concerning internal marketing, the staff at Hotel Eldorado Restaurant have their own personalized online dashboard called Crew Connection. Csek Creative created this internal resource as a way for the Eldorado team to stay connected and access useful information such as health benefit details, career opportunities, menu details, orientation guides and more.
Remember, as a service company, your people truly are your greatest asset! So make sure that the way they speak and present themselves aligns with your brand.
For every service-based business, there is a process that happens behind the scenes to make that service possible. Your processes contribute to the overall experience you offer, and are also a great way to differentiate yourself from the competition.
What do your processes look like, and how do they make you unique? Does it make your service faster than the competition? More affordable? More memorable? More reliable?
It’s true that processes look different for everyone, but the one thing that is important for businesses of all kinds is that these processes remain consistent, ensuring that your customers’ experiences are also consistent.
Creating a service blueprint can be a great way to not only maintain consistency, but discover potential opportunities to improve your processes and therefore the experience that you offer. A service blueprint draws out each step in your processes, including actions that are visible to the customers, and ones that happen behind the scenes. Being able view the big picture can makes it easier to spot opportunities that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.
Seeing It In Action
Csek Creative assisted Waterway Houseboats in refining their booking processes to make things easier for both customers and staff. Where customers used to have to spend up to an hour at the office prior to boarding a houseboat to fill in various forms and watch a safety video, this is now all easily accessed online at the customer’s convenience, and the data is collected in a central system where it is easily accessed by staff. As well, the new Cruise Director app allows customers to plan their trip and coordinate the rest of their crew with ease.
By reviewing the booking process from the very beginning, to the moment customers step on the boat, we were able to smooth out some of the biggest pain points for both Waterway Houseboats, and their customers, through creative thinking and technology.
Since services are intangible, businesses often make up for this by putting additional effort into the physical environment where the service is being offered. Basically, physical environment is the appearance and overall vibe of the area where the service is received.
When choosing a restaurant, customers will consider its ambiance - lighting, decor and so on. When choosing a hair salon, customers may consider whether the waiting room has comfortable seating and reading material available. A sign advertising a great deal on oil changes may tempt customers to choose one mechanic over another.
Service businesses can take advantage of their surroundings to make the experience more memorable, simple, tempting, extravagant or comfortable for customers.
Depending on your business and your goals, altering your business’s physical environment could be as simple as acquiring some assets and materials to add to your space, such as signage to make it easier for customers to navigate your building.
Sometimes, it means re-inventing your space by investing in special decor or interior design. Hiring a professional interior design service, such as Kelowna’s the Hatch which specializes in design for commercial spaces, often pays off for service businesses!
Seeing It In Action
Csek Creative helped the Okanagan’s Quality Greens Farm Markets enhance their physical environment with posters, till-talkers and customized recipe cards, which are placed near the produce that is needed to make the recipe.
The posters and till-talkers let customers know about special services the store offers, such as points cards, e-Newsletters and contests. The recipe cards, which are free for customers, enhance their experience by offering them a little something extra while also encouraging them to make additional purchases.
However, it is important to note that "physical" marketing is not just about in-store advertising. It is about the feel and ease of use of the location as well! And if you ever walk into a Quality Greens - you will quickly realize how it was designed to align to the Quality Greens brand.
How you use the three P’s depends on your business
When it comes to people, processes and physical environment, no two businesses are completely alike. Where one restaurant may rely on its professional wait staff, award-winning chefs and upscale atmosphere, another may be well-loved for its order-at-the-counter service, comfort food dishes and quaint decor.
Two businesses may be in the same industry, but the way they choose to run that business and the appeal they offer to their clientele can be completely different. One thing that remains the same, however, is the importance of the three P’s.
Mainly, it’s important to remember to utilize the three P’s to market your business in a way that is consistent and supports your competitive advantage. If you need assistance determining a marketing strategy for your service-based business, we would be happy to help.