How To Advertise And Market A Service, Rather Than A Product

by Tom Egelhoff

Although the rules of marketing apply pretty equally to most products, the advertising and marketing of a service has a few differences. The biggest difference is that there is no product for the customer to touch, smell or see.

A service is whatever the customer perceives it to be.The owner of a service company may see the finished product in an entirely different light than the customer.

For example, a carpet cleaner knows certain fabrics and colors may not clean as well as others. Heavy traffic may have worn the carpet. Cleaning will not make wear disappear.

The customer may not understand these things. The customer may unrealistically expect the carpet to be exactly like new. The owner of a service company has a much tougher selling job than the person with a product. He may have to offer to clean a portion of the carpet at no charge to convince the customer of the quality of the finished job.

Most service businesses live on word-of-mouth advertising, and referrals. Satisfied customers who will be happy to write testimonials of your service and quality of work. If possible use these testimonials in all your advertising.

Put them in your brochures, radio, TV, flyers, newspapers and yellow pages. Some of your advertising efforts will not have space for all your testimonials but, a one line quote takes up very little room. Pick a good one and use it often in your ads.

Your workers are part of your package. Most car dealership mechanics wear company uniforms. They may be covered with grease but they look more professional than the guy working out of a garage somewhere.

Again the cost of shirts can be a small price to pay for a superior image in the eyes of the customer. Very few customers think, "Gee, they're in uniforms, they must be expensive." Most customers think, "Gee, they sure look like they know what they're doing."

Instead of just a brochure consider using an information package. This package consists of: business card, several testimonials on company letterheads if possible, any articles from newspapers, magazines or newsletters about your company. Studies that educate the customer about your industry or about the type of job you are going to do for them.

A listing of customers who have given permission to be called for a reference. Pay attention to the quality of your advertising materials. That's right, business cards are an advertising expense. So are letterheads and envelopes. A good business card will make you look as big as your biggest competitor. Is this expensive? Lets look at some of the costs.

A double sided, four color brochure will cost around .60¢ each for printing in quantities of 1,000.00. Go to 5,000 and it's even less. For the savings by going to a two color brochure you can make a lot of information packages. Be selective in who you give them to.

Make sure they are a qualified customer who has the resources to use your service. Full color business cards are around $150.00 per 1,000 or .15¢ each. That may sound expensive when compared to specials at $15.00 per 1,000, but the impression a good business card makes is priceless. Don't skimp in this area.

How do you get jobs? Do people call your office. If so, do you have someone with personality answering the phone... with a smile in their voice? If I am hiring someone to deal directly with customers I could care less about their knowledge of the business or their experience. I can teach them all that.

What I can't teach is how to be a genuinely friendly, kind, considerate person to my customers. They bring that trait with them. I can demand they be friendly and give good customer service but if they aren't that type of person I won't get it.

Some people are good with machinery, others are good with numbers and some are good with people. Those are the ones you want dealing with your customers.

No company receives a bill in the mail for the cost of lost sales. In the service industries, image is everything. How you look is how you are. Here's looking at you kid.

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