Service marketing strategies for professional services include the following:
- Market segmentation of professional services and
- Marketing mix of professional services.
Market Segmentation of Professional Services
A target market can be selected by a professional services organization with the help of market segmentation.
Market segmentation, therefore, refers to dividing or segmenting a larger market into several small homogeneous segments comprising the target customers.
Such customers are similar in terms of their needs and response towards the marketing mix of the organization.
Therefore, market segmentation is crucial otherwise differences or similarities among various target customers cannot be identified by the organization.
Market segmentation can be done with the help of several variables. These variables can be categorized as follows:
1. Customer Characteristics: Such variables comprise the characteristics of customers like their psychographics (lifestyle and personality), demographics (such as gender, age, size of family, income), and geographies (where do they reside).
2. Buying Situations: Such variables comprise a level of usage of services and the benefits looked for by the customers.
Marketers usually segment the market on the basis of consumer demographics. The process of market segmentation although, can be started with the help of demographics, however, nothing much regarding the purchase pattern of customers is described by it.
Segmenting on the basis of demographics will give information regarding the customer and the product purchased by him/her but will not reveal much regarding the reason behind the purchase.
The variables used for segmenting the markets, therefore, should be able to provide details about:
- The customer and the location of purchase.
- The means of purchase.
- The quantity purchased.
- The reason for purchase.
All the target customers in the market are not alike. This dissimilarity is often overlooked or not noticed by the professional services organization.
Due to this, a suitable marketing program or marketing mix for the target customers is not properly designed by the organization.
The target customers of the professional services organization should be segmented as shown in the table given below:
Profile of a Possible Professional Services Client
|Geographics||City Centre – Metropolitan Lucknow|
|Demographics||Female, 30-40 years of age, married or single, no children, earning Rs. 20,000 or more, college graduates.|
|Benefits Sought||Forceful, liberal, values time, heavy readers of newspapers and magazines.|
|Benefits||Seeks quality services, personal service, not price-sensitive.|
|Usage Rate||Moderate to heavy user.|
Marketing Mix of Professional Services
With regards to the marketing of professional services, the selection and right balance of appropriate elements of the marketing mix are important.
Such a decision lies with the management of the organization. This will help outline the necessary activities to be performed regarding marketing which will in turn yield positive results for the organization.
Following are the aspects that have to be kept in mind by the organizations providing professional services:
1. Service Package (Product): The firm should make sure that the professional service offered by them is catering to the needs of the target customers.
They should also extend and regularly update their services in order to be at par with the latest developments occurring in the market.
Considering the big accountancy firms, the activities like accounting and auditing now contribute less to their overall revenue.
This is because the other services provided by those firms have grown and developed and generating more revenue. An example of such a firm could be Anderson Consulting.
2. Pricing Policy: Price is considered as a factor to measure quality by the customers. Therefore, setting the prices is a strategic activity when it comes to formulating the marketing program for professional services.
There are several ways to charging the price for the services provided.
For example, charging an hourly basis or charging a fixed price for standard services (such as health check-ups and house conveyance) or through quotations or tenders.
However, it is also important to take into account the competitive scenario in the market while setting prices.
3. Promotional Programs: Before designing a promotional program, it is important to clearly state the promotional objectives.
It is also possible to have several promotional objectives and not just one. Also, a wide range of media and messages are used by a lot of professional service providers for communicating with their target customers.
Awareness regarding the firm and the services provided by it can be generated through advertising.
For example, extensive advertising is done by cosmetic surgery clinics which demonstrate the various services and the images of ‘before and after’ results in order to lure in customers.
Communicating with current customers can also be done with the use of in-house magazines and newsletters.
Attracting attention and notifying the target customers regarding the changes taking place within the firm can be done with the help of tools like publicity, PR, and sponsorship.
In this way, the firm can become attractive not only in the eyes of the customers but also in the eyes of the future workforce. Therefore, promotion is significant in hiring skilled and qualified workers as well.
4. Distribution: Another significant decision regarding the marketing mix of services is the location of services. Convenience is important when it comes to choosing a service provider.
However, in the case of highly complicated and expert services, location decisions are not of much importance for the customers.
This is because the service provider itself visits the customer to deliver the services. Such services include conducting surveys or accounting audits, etc.
Professional service providers deal with customers directly and do not employ channels of distribution. Although, subsidiaries and branch offices can be opened by them once they enter new and different market segments.
5. People: The person who is responsible to deliver the professional service is an important aspect of the marketing mix of professional services.
Various development programs should be conducted by the service provider firms which would inculcate skills in the employees and workers so that they could understand their importance within the firm and deliver quality services to the customers and in turn contribute to the success of the firm.
6. Process Design: Process design has several aspects. Even if the services are highly customized, these aspects contribute significantly to the development and delivery of quality service.
Such aspects include quality of administration, appointment systems, customer care, communication methods, operational efficiency with regards to teamwork and delegation of tasks, etc. It is also possible to revise or improve these aspects.
For example, the staff of a hospital takes care of patients until they fully recover and are ready to be discharged. Similarly, an effective queuing system in place while visiting a dentist ensures the smooth functioning of the services.
7. Physical Evidence: Customers assess the quality of the professional services with the help of certain credibility that comes along with it.
This credibility is offered by the physical evidence. Such physical evidence can be in the form of affiliations, accolades, and qualifications of the professional service provider which will be mentioned in its certificates and other tangibles.
These help to build the image of the service firm in the eyes of the customers. The working environment, premises, and the uniforms or clothes worn by the staff of the firm are also cues that help to develop the credibility of the firm.