Marketing Services (intangibles) can be challenging because there is no actual product that the customer can see or feel, neither can one demonstrate how the product works nor creatively communicate its features and benefits to the customer. What this means is that a service marketer must master the art of painting a believable picture that can get the prospect to connect with your brand as well as see how your service will benefit them and support their goals and aspirations.

The key to marketing services is to be able to demonstrate that you understand your prospect’s challenges, and more importantly, that you can provide a solution to these challenges better than the competition.  For every business, it can be a daunting task trying to create a sticky and valuable brand impression in the mind of your customer. I have attempted to summarize five crucial steps to ensuring service marketing success which every business can leverage.

  1. Develop a visibility plan with specific goals – This simply means positioning your brand in such a way that your target audience get to see and hear about your business and its services. Positioning ensures that your brand is visible within the right category and is well framed towards communicating its unique advantage. You can utilize available channels and touchpoints across a validated customer journey to engage and interact with your customers. Some of these include websites, social media, newspapers (both online & offline), radio, television, conferences, etc.
  1. Competitor Analysis – This is simply the process of identifying competitors in your industry and researching their different marketing strategies as well as earmarking benchmarks. You should go further to understand the market share of each competitor and the service offerings within their portfolio. Some interesting questions which you should seek answers to are:
  • What is their online presence?
  • How do they communicate with their clients?
  • What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • What is their unique selling proposition?
  • How do they innovate within the category?

An assessment of your competition will help you discover your own competitive advantage. Your competitive dashboard should capture social media sentiments, website updates, advertisement programs among others. You should keep up with your competition’s marketing activities to always be one step ahead of them. Figure out what works for your brand and build that into a winning strategy.

  1. Attend networking events and speaking engagements – It might be difficult for some to believe that in this digitally expanding world, physical communication still works but the truth is that it does. In service marketing, it is almost impossible to take away the advantage of direct engagement. A lot of clients are interested in the faces behind the brand. Networking events, seminars and conferences are held all over, and there’s always one tailored specifically for your industry. Get involved and participate! It is the perfect opportunity to talk to prospects, target clients as well as other businesses within the industry.  Create a participation strategy as your resources permit. You could attend as a guest or as an exhibitor. Ensure you go along with your business cards and brand collaterals.
  1. Thought Leadership – Write thought provoking articles just like this one to demonstrate capacity and knowledge. This is the stuff that industry leaders are made out of. Thought leadership enables businesses to discuss their solutions through the lens of their customers thereby building a quality reputation. In B2B marketing, thought leadership is a vital tool for any business to increase brand awareness, strengthen credibility and attract new opportunities.

So, if you are thinking of a strategy for content marketing, thought leadership allows you to demonstrate expertise in your industry while simultaneously expanding your reach and helping your readers and customers grow.  Some of the benefits of thought leadership marketing include:

  • Improved brand awareness and exposure
  • Attracting business opportunities
  • Stimulating intellectual discourse
  • Solidifying your position as an expert and authority within your industry

  1. Maximize the use of social media – Social media is just as important for a B2B company as it is for B2C businesses. C-level business decision makers in B2B organisations are known to be highly influenced by social media content when making B2B sales decisions according to a study by market intelligence firm, IDC.  LinkedIn is also the most used social network for B2B marketing as expected. In today’s world, social media content also helps to increase your digital footprint as a business which makes it easier for your brand to show up through search and helps to increase your brand’s top of mind awareness. In some cases, depending on your organisation’s digital infrastructure, social media can link to direct conversions. Here are some simple advantages of leveraging social media:
  • Helps your business connect with potential and existing clients.
  • It is a way to project brand identity and establish tone of voice.
  • It greatly improves search rankings.
  • It is a viable way to distribute content.
  • It can be used to support client queries

In summary, service marketing requires a more strategic and specialized approach to achieve the desired results for your business. It is uniquely delicate when compared to product marketing. In today’s highly competitive environment with fierce price battles, you need to develop a superior competitive advantage by developing a robust plan which leverages your brand to drive profitability and create value for your organisation and its stakeholders. Your service marketing activities should be intentional and not left to chance.

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