Full Sail Partners Blog

Putting Yourself on a Shelf: Marketing Services Based Businesses

Consumers. Buyers. Clients. Users. Customers. You want ‘em, you need ‘em! and it doesn’t matter what kind of business you own.  Or does it? Marketing services based businesses can be a tricky task. 

Identifying and marketing to your consumers

is both formulaic and highly individual,

because what you’re marketing makes all the difference.

In other words, if you’re a product based firm or a services based firm, your marketing efforts will certainly have some similarities but marketing to each of these audiences will also have their own needs.

Let’s first start with definitions.  

marketing services based businesses

Product based firm – you’re an organization with a solid, tangible product to offer its customers:  you can package it and put it on a “shelf.” Marketing is pretty easy – you might even say it’s “textbook” (taught in every marketing class across the country).

Services based firm – an organization that has people as its primary offering, i.e. a process or an expertise.  And since you can’t package people or put a process on a shelf, you have to market differently. 

A bit of both – Sometimes you’re some sort of hybrid between a products business and services firm.  Maybe you sell a product and offer services to back up that product.  Maybe you offer services with some ancillary products.  Whatever your mix of products and services, your marketing efforts will have to vary depending on your target market for each.

Who says it best?

So let’s get down to business and start marketing.   

When you’re marketing a product, you let your product speak for itself, tell its own story of how buying the product will solve the customers’ problems.  You can do things like show your product in action - think cars careening down the highway or a newly cleaned floor.

With marketing services based businesses, it’s a bit different.  Yet still much the same.

Like products, services solve problems.  Marketing your services business will still show problems being solved but as told by the current clients of your services: as the old adage says, people buy from people.  Think of a company like “Angie’s List” which sells services of professionals as told by the users of those services.  With services, your biggest marketing tool is your clients.  In services, you can’t parade your product for your potential customers, but you can show those who have successfully used your services. 

Client Feedback Tool. The key to marketing services based businesses.

But how do you know the stories of your clients?  You ask them.  And in the services world, your best friend is client surveys, specifically, a Client Feedback Tool which companies like Full Sail Partners use to periodically and regularly gather information from clients about engagements.

Sometimes customers need a voice (other than just talking with a project manager) through which to offer their feedback.  A Client Feedback Tool offers survey questions which your clients can use to offer their thoughts on the engagement:  these can either be constructive points as to areas for improvement or compliments on the engagement which are really helping their work lives.  And, with the right marketing professional, both can be used to your services business’ advantage, because once you know how your customers are feeling, you can take action.  In marketing, no news is not necessarily good news; the more information you are armed with, the better marketing can do its job.

Never underestimate the value of retention

Marketing your services business is a bit different but can be better once you find your audience because of one word – RETENTION.  If you have happy customers, not only can they contribute to your marketing efforts, but keeping these same happy customers is the real boon to your bottom line.  According to Forbes.com “Five Customer Retention Tips for Entrepreneurs” 

For those who feel that customer retention plays a relatively minor role in helping a company grow a healthy bottom line, here are a few statistics you might be interested in. According to Bain and Co., a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%. And if those numbers don’t impress you, Gartner Group statistics tell us that 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers. Still not sold on customer retention? One final statistic provided by Lee Resource Inc. should give you plenty to think about: Attracting new customers will cost your company 5 times more than keeping an existing customer.   

When it comes to marketing services based businesses, happy clients are your secret weapon

Marketing your services business requires some tweaks to your marketing that differ slightly from product businesses.  Your chief marketing tool is your current customers as they proselytize your message.  Not only are they reaching new customers, but if they are happy enough to share your good work, it looks like you will have a long-term relationship making your bottom line even that much happier. 

Yes, it may be a bit daunting to come up with different marketing styles for your potentially varied target audiences. To accomplish this, check out the Client Feedback Tool - a tool designed to help you target your marketing efforts.


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