I'm Sorry, But We're All Selling Services
I hate to break it to you, but it's true. Even if you think you are selling hard goods. You're not. Every last one of us in business, is in the service business and should start acting (and marketing) like it.
1. You are helping someone do something: The definition of a service as defined by Dictionary.com when used as a noun is as follows: "an act of helpful activity; help; aid:"
See what I mean? Let's go through a basic example and a fun little exercise to show you my point. Dictionary.com says that a shoe is, "an external covering for the human foot, usually of leather and consisting of a more or less stiff or heavy sole and a lighter upper part ending a short distance above, at, or below the ankle."
You see that shoe up there? Look at it for a few seconds. Think of some of the words that come to mind when you think about it. Go ahead. I'll wait.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that you probably thought of some words like, "fitness", "running", "walking", "sweat", "hard work", "outdoors", "adventure", and the like. I would also venture to guess that almost no one thought of "laces", "plastic", "fabric", "foam padding". Interesting right?
So what does this mean? This means, as human beings, we are wired to associate objects with experiences, memories and physical activities. As babies we go around picking up objects, putting them in our mouth, and throwing them on the ground so that we can learn what each object does. Otherwise, an object is just an object- a blob on a shelf somewhere.
It's that same process with adults. Wine is only a liquid mommies and daddies drink until you get to high school and learn that it makes you feel really amazing and makes you dance better. Wait, I think I'm off topic here.
2. You are selling to human beings, not robots: Point is, human beings associate objects with experiences and how they can use them. When making purchasing decisions, we ask ourselves the basic functional questions, like what size is it and how much is it, but we also get more in depth than that. Subconsciously we ask ourselves things like, what can these shoes do for me? Will they help me run the race faster? (Olympic reference anyone!?) Will they help keep my feet warm in the snow? Will they help me feel sexy, strong, beautiful, etc.?
I believe that this is where a lot of small businesses are missing the mark. A tons of small businesses that sell both services and products tend to focus on the technical specifications rather than the perceived benefits. Look how many classes we offer! Look at our beautiful dress- it's offered in six sizes! Look at this gym, we have 1,000 machines for you to choose from!
3. The best brands in the world are selling experiences: As small business owners, we need to be clever and take note from some of the smartest brands in the world. For example, Patagonia. Have you heard of them? They are known around the world for being a very earth-conscious company that sources from sustainable regions, etc. They aren't just marketing their backpacks or jackets - they are marketing a lifestyle.
They are marketing their products as a service! They are selling you on the idea of what you CAN DO or who you can become when you are wearing or using their products. People who get sold on Patagonia are buying into the idea that when they wear Patagonia, they are earth-conscious and free. They value a sense of social responsibility, adventure, and desire to own products that allow them to experience the beauty the world has to offer. Oh, and they also like the functional aspects, how it looks, how it performs, how long it lasts, etc. Did you know that Patagonia will repair anything for the entire lifetime of the product for free? Adding a service to a product... what a great idea!
Now- for those of you who like to argue, I didn't forget about you. No where did I say technical specifications are not important. I believe that you must have the technical background and product specs to meet and exceed the expectations of the customer. I wouldn't be doing myself or my customers any favors if I sold them on the idea of gaining financial independence and the ability to free up their time, if my services only ended up putting them in the hole and sucking up all their time.
4. Feelings Matter: Yes, I said it. How a consumer or customer feels about your product and brand
actually matters- a lot. And I believe that regardless of your industry, you can't ignore feelings. As a marketer, it is my job to be as closely connected to the customer as possible. I need to understand exactly how that person feels during the entire buying process.
Where are his/her pain points? What do they do when they are frustrated and can't find a solution? Do they break down and buy anything that fits the bill? Where do they go when they are seeking the perfect solution and have time to be patient? How do they feel when they land on my website? Are they turned off by my colors? Is my imagery off-putting or offensive? Do they walk into my store and smell something weird and think I'm creepy? Do they get uncomfortable if my truck is dirty or my front desk is a mess? Does my packaging make people angry because it's too hard to open? Was the office manager rude and made them cry?
Every interaction with your client is an experience. And unless you are selling to robots on Mars, that human being is making judgments and logging memories about your products, your company and your brand.
So how do we, as small businesses shake it up and sell our services or products as experiences and lifestyle upgrades? Here's a few tips for those of you who are still with me. Lucky you! Click here to fill out the form and get my Top 5 Tips to market like a boss, right away in your in-box!