When it comes to marketing, promoting products and services are two completely different worlds. Not to say that one is easier than the other, but they each come with their own set of challenges. You’re targeting potential customers with different mindsets and priorities when it comes to what they’re looking for, in addition to unique sets of expectations on what your marketing material should provide. Let me walk you through a few guidelines that will help you find ways to promote either a product or a service, and distinguish the differences between the two.
If you are looking at promoting a product, and you happen to be a fairly linear thinker, you’re in luck. When selling a physical object, it’s much easier to narrow down specifications and list the features that make it desirable. Another bonus of physical products is having the ability to take great photography of your product, which acts as fabulous marketing material. Crisp, high-quality photography equals instant gratification and recognition for your potential customers.
What to do
To illustrate, let’s pretend that you’re a car salesperson trying to sell a particular model of car, and are going to make brochures in order to promote it. Right off the bat, showcasing a great picture of the shiny new car in a cool setting makes the reader want the car before they know anything about it, simply because it probably looks better than the one sitting in their driveway. Next, you can list off the primary features of this great car, and even compare it to similar models. Keep in mind that someone looking to buy a car will have a long list of questions/comparisons before they are going to make a purchase, so the more point-form information you can provide, the more informed their decision will be. This method also saves you time relaying information that could already be on your brochure, allowing customers to do a bit of research on their own time. Seems easy, right?
Now, for those of you who happen to be more kinesthetic, promoting a service can come a bit more naturally. Since a service isn’t necessarily something you can physically hold or model for a photograph, you have to get a bit more creative on your marketing approach. The key is to focus on selling the experience of receiving that service, as opposed to the service itself.
What to do
Now, picture yourself as the owner of a hair salon, and are going to use the same approach of our car salesperson and have some brochures designed to promote your business. When looking for a new hair salon, very few people are likely to make comparisons between salons based on the posters they have in the salons, and will very likely have a short list of what they look for; most commonly price, quality of the end result, and customer service. Potential customers who are looking for a service are much more likely to act on a personal recommendation over reading a long paragraph in a brochure on why your business is the best. Taking pictures of yourself cutting hair may not be the most effective method of getting your message across. However, by focusing on the experience, as opposed to the service, your potential clients can more easily relate and appreciate the luxury of an afternoon in your salon. While you will still want to list out your key services, you are much more likely to experience a higher success rate by allowing the readers of your brochure to determine how they feel towards the salon based on their emotions and senses. Be sure to provide testimonials to inform your potential customers of the quality of the service they will receive, and include a few professional photographs of customers having a great time in your salon.
The primary difference between marketing a service and a product is what your potential customers expect from you when making comparisons between your business and other competitors. A successful product promotion will typically require professional photography, as well as specifications explaining why the product is superior to others. In contrast, promoting a service requires more personable imagery and use of words, with a high emotional to technical information ratio.
That brings us to our next point, the similarities between promoting products and services. Products and services both have one major commonality between them when it comes to advertising, being that you need to focus on the benefits of your product/service in order to roll in the sales. Relating to the car brochure, there are obviously a few benefits to being the owner of a shiny new car, just as there are benefits to getting the haircut of your dreams at a great salon. In the end, your promotional material should be centered on the end result, most likely being happy customers enjoying either your product or service. Using terms like ‘luxury at a price you can afford’ comes across much more meaningful to someone looking for a new haircut than ‘we cut hair’, just as ‘rated best car of the year’ is more efficient than ‘gets you from point a to b’. By using relatable messages, you can speak directly to what your potential customers are looking for.