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Services

A product is tangible, which means the customer can touch and see the product before deciding to make a purchase. Items such as packaging and presentation may compel a customer to purchase a product.

Services, on the other hand, are not tangible, which can make it more difficult to promote and sell than a product, here quality of service plays the main role.

Relationship and CVP

Products tend to fill a customer's needs or wants, so companies can use this as a drive to sell a it. A service is more about selling a relationship and the value of the relationship between the buyer and seller of the service. For example, a car is something a buyer can touch and see as well as use to evaluate the experience. A service, such as lifestyle coaching, for example, is not tangible. A lifestyle coach may be able to assist clients in creating a life plan and implementing steps to transform their lives into a pleasant journey, but it is not something tangible that the client can place in his home and look at every day. Therefore, the client needs to perceive the value of the service, which can be harder to get across.

One or more

Marketing products tends to involve multiple products that make up the line. For example, cleaning product manufacturers tend to market not just one cleaning product. Instead, they have a line of cleaning products to serve the various needs of their customers. Services, on the other hand, typically have a single option. It can be harder to promote and sell the reputation of one single service over the benefits of many different services.

Comparing Quality

Measuring the quality of a product is easier than measuring that of a service. If a customer buys a cleaning product to clean the kitchen sink and it doesn’t do the job, the customer knows the value of the product is zero. On the other hand, it is harder to measure the quality of a service, unless associated with quality of service usually delivered by customer service staff and measured all the way of the customer journey.

Return Factor- building loyalty.

If a customer purchases a product and it doesn’t work as it is supposed to, the customer can return the product to get money back or at least to receive a store credit. A service is consumed as it is offered, so it lacks the return factor that a product has. Some service providers overcome this by offering money-back guarantees, yet hardly prevent the bad word of mouth.

Communication strategy

Messaging:

Tone of voice

Message strategy is the foundation for everything you do. It needs to be strong or your marketing efforts will fall apart. Your message strategy consists of a positioning statement and three to four supporting points. The positioning statement addresses the target market’s most pressing problem by stating a benefit; i.e. why the target market should care about your product, solution, service.

Product messaging usually contains features, benefits and in a price sensitive market the element of price & affordability should be introduces along with accessibility. Product message should appeal to the senses as “fit”, “beautiful”, and to logic as “economic”, “long lasting”

Service messaging usually contains assurance and emotional element leading to call to action, in telecom for example, an operator would offer best coverage for its clients to remain connected with their beloved and families, and also the element of price is introduced to win over any competition. Service message should appeal to the feelings as “connected to others”, “joy”, “spiritual”, “fulfilling dreams”, “better future”, and “self-esteem”.

Credibility

In Product messaging the spokesperson and source of the information should be based on experiment, and actual performance, in TV ads for example, the product is put into test and convincing results have to be shown. Service messaging on the other hand the spokesperson and source of the information should be believable and trustworthy, based on personal emotional experience with people sharing the same need.

Channels

Product messaging channels fall under the very well know channels of online and offline media, based on the target audience and segments. Service messaging channels should reach the human inner feelings of your audiences, and nothing can be more human than humans themselves. Use your own clients to spread the word, make the best out of your surrounding networks and connections to reach out for your prospects and target audience, this takes new and innovative way of communication that isn’t easy to implement.

 Marketing Strategy

Product marketing strategy is structured on four steps (As developed by Ian Ansoff). 

  1. Implementing the product market expansion grid is to check whether a company can gain more share on the market by using their current products on the current markets. This first step is called Market Penetration.
  2. Checking for new markets for their current products. This step is called Market Development.
  3. Finding ways to expand the market share by introducing new company products on the current market. This step is called Product Development.
  4. Developing new products for new market. This last step, called Diversification, requires a lot of efforts and budget allocation.

Service marketing strategy should be based on gaps model

  1. Service quality gap

This model is particularly relevant in service strategy as it captures the cross-functionality inherent in service management. As depicted in the model, a service provider’s primary goal should be to meet or exceed customer expectations, and strategies used to achieve that objective (whether operations, human resource, or technology-based) are all focused on the customer. Every gap and every strategy used to close the gaps in the model retains a focus on the customer at its core.

 Figure 1. Gaps model of service quality.

 2.      The Listening Gap

It’s the difference between customer expectations of service and company understanding of those expectations. A primary cause in many firms for not meeting customers' expectations – that is, the customer gap – is that the firm lacks accurate understanding of exactly what those expectations are. Many reasons exist for managers not being aware of what customers expect: They may not interact directly with customers, they may be unwilling to ask about expectations, or they may be unprepared to address them. Closing the listening gap requires that management or empowered employees acquire accurate information about customers' expectations. Customer expectations must be assessed accurately before new services are developed, and they must be tracked after the services are introduced.

 3.      Design and Standards gap

This gap is concerned with translating customer expectations into actual service designs and developing standards to measure service operations against customer expectations.

  1. Performance gap

Although a company may have closed both the listening gap and the service design and standards gap, it may still fall short of providing service that meets customers' expectations if it is unable to deliver service in the way the service was designed. Gap 4, the service performance gap, must also be closed to make sure there is no discrepancy between customer-driven service design and standards and actual service delivery.

 Conclusion

Services marketing strategy focuses on delivering intangible processes and experiences to customers rather than physical goods and discrete  transactions. Delivering experiences successfully and building customer relationships are complicated undertakings involving many different strategies and tactics. Although companies have often found it difficult to attack service problems in an organized manner, a well-established model such as the gaps model focuses on the customer and describes the approaches necessary to close the gap between customer expectations and perceptions. Figure 1, the full gaps model, shows that closing the all-important customer gap is a function of closing four gaps on the service provider side: the listening gap, the service design and standards gap, the performance gap, and the communication gap. Each of these gaps involves concepts and tools designed to minimize the gaps. In order for us to build up a successful marketing plan, we need first to understand the difference between a product and a service, not in definition but in implementation of the marketing and communication strategy in hand.