Published: May 04 2018
Last Updated: March 14 2023
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-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).
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.
We know you are just getting started on this article but if you’re interested in this topic you may want to spend a few more minutes to learn:
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.
Breaking down internal 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.
Breaking down external marketing
External marketing involves the interaction between employees and customers. This is where elements like training, sales scripts, and employee image come into play.
One business who does a great job of executing external and internal marketing campaigns in tandem is RHN Chartered Professional Accountants, a full service accounting firm with locations in Richmond, Vancouver, Kelowna and Osoyoos. They prioritize their people at every turn, and the way they combine internal and external marketing to create impactful recruitment marketing campaigns truly reflects that.
On the internal side, they engage their employees to participate in their recruitment campaigns, interviewing them for video projects, having blog posts written that highlight their career paths and achievements and featuring them on social media. Externally, they use this collaboratively created content to attract top talent.
Having trouble finding and retaining great new staff? We may be able to help.
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.
Ask Yourself 2 Quick Questions
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 to view the big picture can make it easier to spot opportunities that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.
Csek Creative worked with Kelly O’Bryan’s and Carlos O’Bryan’s to develop a custom intranet system to better train their staff. By creating a standard onboarding process with clear learning outcomes, the restaurant franchise is able to ensure that all employees across all locations have the same knowledge, training and demonstrated skills as they integrate into the team.
With this goal in mind, we developed an intranet that easily facilitates knowledge quizzes and records all staff’s scores and progression through the onboarding process.
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
When Csek Creative worked with Legacy Tire on their rebrand from the Fountain Tire franchise, establishing a polished, branded physical environment was essential. We worked with them on every aspect of their brand, from logo development to the launch of a new site to printing new signage for the shop. With consistent brand implementation on and offline, Legacy Tire was able to smooth out the transition from one brand to another, becoming easily recognizable to current and prospective customers.
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'd love to help.
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