Services Marketing

Services marketing has incurred an explosive amount of scholarly research in the last 20 years, however since 1986 there has been no debate concerning the notion that services are distinct from products, and thus deserve a special approach, a set of concepts and a body of knowledge (Brown, Fisk, & Bitner, 1994). This essay will explain the distinguishing features of services marketing, giving examples where possible. It will begin by defining services marketing and giving some background knowledge on its divergence from product marketing. It will then examine the four characteristics of services, and then finish with an explanation of the extra P’s found in the services marketing mix.

In the last century there has been a large shift in marketing thought; evolving from a goods-dominated view, in which tangible output and discrete transactions were the focus, to a service-dominant view, in which intangibility, exchange processes, and relationships are central (Vargo & Lusch, 2004). Vargo and Lusch define services as the application of specialized competences (knowledge and skills) through deeds, processes, and performances for the benefit of another entity or the entity itself. Four idiosyncratic features of services will now be given, highlighting why services marketing is different from basic product marketing.

Arguably the most distinguishing feature about services is their intangibility. Services are defined in (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2006) as “deeds, processes, and performances”. None of these are physical objects in which a customer can take ownership of, even though during a service physical evidence will be apparent in the form of things like medicine the doctors prescribes to you, the photo taken of you riding the rollercoaster, or the food on your plate in a restaurant. This invisibility creates a number of issues for marketers. Firstly there is no stock, making it hard to manage supply and demand. Secondly services cannot be shown or displayed to customers, making it hard for marketers to advertise the quality of the service. And finally, because services don’t physically exist, there is difficulty in patenting them, making it easy for other firms to copy your service.

Another notable aspect about products is that on average they stay the same. If you buy a Ford Focus here in Australia, and then go and buy the same model in America, chances are they will both be exactly the same. Services are different in that they are heterogeneous, meaning they differ with each use. For example a wildlife tour will never be the same twice, not only because of the random and unpredictable nature of the animals, but the guide may be in a different mood, the weather will have changed, and there will be different customers each time. These factors make it harder to consistently give quality service, which is important to marketers because customers will have a particular set of expectations in mind, based primarily on what was promoted in the service and previous experiences in the particular industry.

Another distinguishable feature about services is the fact that it’s both produced and consumed at the same time, as opposed to products where customers do not see how the product is manufactured. A good metaphor for this is being at the theatre. Consumers can be compared to an audience, where they watch actors (employees) perform on stage (physical location like a business store) amongst props (physical objects like chairs, tables, pot plants etc). The actors are ‘live’ and performing (producing) at the same time as the audience are watching (consuming). This brings us to the concept of interactive marketing. In a service, operational staff carries out much of the marketing function (Klassen, Russel, & Chrisman, 1998), and marketers are left to the advertising and promotion.

The final distinction that differentiates services from products is their perishability. While some products perish very quickly (like water balloons), services simply cannot be stored, saved, resold or returned at all. Marketers main concern would be the procedure for when things do not go as planned. Customers cannot simply return the service and ask for another one; it is up to the service provider to offer the customer some kind of compensation. If passengers are forced to wait a long time for their flight, employees could provide free coffee and refreshments while they wait, in an attempt to make up for their failing service.

With product marketing the marketing mix includes the four P’s; product, price, place and promotion. Services use the same elements plus three more to help account for their unique nature.

Firstly there is people, which comprise of everyone that influences the buyer’s perceptions, including the buyer themselves. Customers have an active role in the production, and thus can influence the outcome of their own service or the service of others. For example a large family with screaming children interrupting a young couples romantic dinner at a restaurant.

Every person is important to the marketer, no matter how small their role may be. Consider an IT professional who installs computers in people’s homes. During that installation the buyer may form an opinion of the service provider as a whole based purely on that IT professionals performance. Sometimes a person is the sole service provider, for example a dentist or lawyer, making their performance and appearance critical to gaining a high perceived quality of service.

The sixth ‘P’ is physical evidence, which is the environment in which the service is delivered and where the firm and customer interact (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2006). It also includes any physical objects that assist in the delivery of the service. (Lehtinen & Lehtinen, 1991) define it as the environment and its instruments. With some services customers may find it hard to judge the quality of the service, especially with credence service’s like financial advisors or legal advice. It is crucial that marketing managers address consumer fears regarding risk that results before, during, and after consumption of credence services (Keh & Sun, 2008). Since the customer does not have the knowledge or experience to judge the actual service, they instead turn their attention to other things, including the physical evidence of service quality. This would usually come in the form of a professional looking workspace, however would change with each service provider. For example in a doctors surgery cleanliness would be expected.

Finally there is the service process, including the procedures, mechanisms and flow of activities by which the service is delivered (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2006). When purchasing a service, customers often have a set of expectations of the process of the service, and when these are not met, the perceived quality of service drops. For example in white water rafting a customer might be dissatisfied if, when they arrived, they were told they had to carry the raft to the top of the river first. The process is important because people participate in it, unlike products, where the process is behind doors.

Services represent at least 70% of the nation’s total GDP for at least 5 countries, including the United Kingdom and Australia, making it a hot topic for not only marketers, but anyone competing in the business world. Services are distinguished from products by four characteristics; intangibility, they are heterogeneous, there is simultaneous production and consumption, and their perishability. Services marketing differs from product marketing from the fact that three extra P’s are added to the original marketing mix; people, physical evidence and process.

The Effect Of Gadgets On The Youth

The young and trendy generation of today judge themselves, according to the kind of gadgets they posses. The popularity of gadgets among youth has ensured that newer and trendier gadgets are introduced very passing day. The addiction of gadgets has been such among one and all that it has become unthinkable of a life without a gadget. The effect of these gadgets has been tremendous, and it is often debated that whether the impact that it has made on the youth is a positive or negative one.

Video Games and Computer games can be listed as the gadget which has influenced the youth the most. Several researches indicate that these games can have a positive effect on the youth’s mind. However sometimes it may cause terrible changes in behaviors. It was seen that playing video games or computer games actually help the young people in concentrating much better. There are games which require you to use your brains and those games may indeed prove to be helpful. Also it was seen that it has a very good impact on the motor skills and spatial skills of today’s youth. However these games may also result in the child getting absolutely isolated from the society. There is a tendency to get engrossed in the games, and forget everything else. Also there are chances that they might tend to confuse between the virtual world and real world. When you are using a gadget like a video game it is important to remember that whatever you are doing is going on in the virtual world. It would be nothing short of foolery in trying to emulate those things in the real world. Gadgets like computers or video games may turn to be very addictive. This is another worry as because these things are meant to be past times, and never should it be preferred over family or social commitments. Thus it is important to remain aware of your responsibilities while using your favorite gadget.

MP3 players another popular gadget that has found its feet among the youth also has its pros and cons. It may soothe your soul when you are doing nothing, or even doing some work which is less intensive. Listening to music may also help to concentrate better at times. However listening to music for long periods of time in a high volume, may cause hearing problems in the near future which is extremely dangerous.

Love Motorcycles? Career Ideas for Motorcycle Enthusiasts

While many people think of motorcyclists as those who love to ride as a hobby or only in their spare-time, there are some individuals who are lucky enough to be able to use their motorcycle as part of their job. Just like a moving company has a truck, some people have motorcycles that are essential to their jobs. If you’ve ever considered using your bike as part of your career, here are a few job ideas to get you started!

Racing and Stunt Driving

Obviously, you can use your motorcycle to start a career as a stunt driver or motorcycle racer. This may require a top-of-the-line bike and some hefty health insurance coverage, but can definitely be worthwhile if you’ve got the skills to prove your worth! And if you’re feeling really risky, it may be time to hit road and pull your stunt skills full-time with a daredevil carnival act!

Police Office or Security Guard

If you have a security background or training and enjoy spending time on your bike, certain careers in the security industry may allow you to combine both work and play. As a security guard or police officer, you can help others and patrol grounds while doing it in style! Security guards and police officers oftentimes take advantage of a motorcycle’s mobility to work carnivals, parades, and other large events.

Test Driver

Motorcycle companies will lend out their bikes to test drivers to try out and write reviews for national magazines and online motorcyclist websites. If you’re knowledgeable about motorcycles and enjoy trying out bikes that haven’t even hit the market yet, this may be a great way to combine what you know and love into a fulfilling career!

Motorcycle Courier

While delivering pizzas on a bike may be difficult unless you have really wide saddlebags, there are things that you can deliver and transport on a motorcycle. Motorcycle couriers are individuals who deliver or transport things to and from locations. Time sensitive court documents and paperwork are some items delivered by motorcycle couriers who can navigate through busy cities and traffic better than larger vehicles.

Travel Writer and Photographer

What better way to hit the road than with a quality camera and some portable technology. For those with a traveling spirit and an eye for great landscape shots, motorcyclists who have the time and energy to travel the world may enjoy doing so from the seat of their bike! Travel to exotic and unknown places on your bike, snap some photos and write about the area. Sell your work as freelance or start up your own online blog or website to share your adventures with the world!

Mechanic

If you’re more the hands-on, “behind the scenes” type and enjoy the mechanics of a motorcycle, you could always consider a mechanic job focusing on improving and fixing motorcycles for others. Knowledge of how a bike works is required for this technical kind of position, but can be extremely rewarding and fun for those who like a challenge and don’t mind getting their hands dirty!

Motorcycle Sales

For those of you that love motorcycles and have a knack for selling, a motorcycle salesman may be the ultimate job. An added bonus about this career path is that you’re more likely to be successful if you’re genuinely enthusiastic about the items you are selling. Helping other motorcycle enthusiasts gear up with the right equipment is also another great job for those that can’t get motorcycling off the brain. Biker clothing and apparel is becoming a booming business with the growing number of men and women getting into motorcycling for the first time.

Catering Business Profits, Earnings and Salaries – How Much Money Can You Really Make?

Many people have turned their love of cooking and entertaining into a good living by starting catering businesses.

Catering is a multi-billion dollar industry in the U.S. and as one of the fastest growing segments of the food and beverage industry, the catering business offers great opportunities for those wanting to start a small business with a low start up cost.

In this article we will look at catering business profits, earnings and salaries and how much money it is really possible to make in this industry. Then we will examine some of the things that separate the really successful players from the amateurs.

Is a $100,000 Yearly Profit Possible in Catering?

Many people consider a $100,000 pre-tax salary or profit to be a benchmark for success and they wonder if they can reach this level of earnings in catering.

Most small catering business owners who put in the effort can expect to earn between $20,000 and $40,000 profit per year for the owner during the first couple of years. After a couple of years in the business, you can easily scale up to earning a ‘six figure’ annual income from catering.

Tips for Getting to the ‘Six Figure’ Level

1) Forget catering from your home kitchen if you want to get to this salary level. Business savvy caterers do volumes that require them to either rent commercial kitchen space by the hour, arrange access to restaurant kitchens during off-hours or focus on ‘on-premises’ jobs only and use the kitchens of their clients.

2) Successful players love spending time creating menus, following food trends and interacting with people without neglecting the business side of catering.

3) Start to create a powerful brand right from the start with your logo, company values and unique service that will grow into a valuable asset that allows you to command a premium price for your catering services in the market.

4) Develop systems for every part of your business to streamline day-to-day operations. Analyze the way that you and your staff work and strive to increase productivity.

5) Understand that there are ‘niche’ markets within the catering industry that you would never think of until you really start looking. Top caterers find these untapped opportunities, and carve out a business catering to the specific needs of these groups.

6) Perfect the process of consulting with new clients and learn how to politely up-sell them on some of your more expensive offerings.

7) Realize that you are leaving money on the table if you don’t also up-sell additional event related services to your customers.

8) Learn how to hire, train and organize a small team to assist you with food preparation, delivery, service, and even sales if you want a realistic chance of getting to an income level above $100,000.

9) Don’t neglect traditional advertising methods but also pursue other modern marketing methods such as networking, cross promotions and guerrilla marketing.

10) Successful caterers also recognize the importance of customer referrals. Customers may introduce friends to you because they like your food and services but there are also other ways to get them talking about your company.

To get started on the right track, do as much reading as you can about general small business management and the catering business specifically. Many highly successful caterers have published start up guides and you have a chance to learn from their mistakes instead of making your own and you can benefit from their expert advice and insider tips.

It is possible to make a lot of money in the catering business if you put in the effort. Reaching a level of earnings that will allow you to make a ‘six figure’ salary from your catering business is entirely possible within your first two years in business.