During our training in Marketing (as every marketing student can attest too), we were drilled in the importance of the ‘Marketing Mix’, otherwise known as the 7 P’s.
The traditional 4 P’s of Product, Place, Price and Promotion were easily applied to tangible products, however it was the extended 3 P’s added for the service sector that really caught our attention, especially working in a ‘service’ industry ourselves.
The extended 3 P’s of People, Process, and Physical Evidence, sounded great in theory, and in the world of text books and imagined scenarios, we could see how they could be implemented. However, in the real world of business, using the extended P’s in practice wasn’t as straightforward as we expected. But as a marketing business ourselves, it’s something that we have always considered and promoted.
So how can you use the extended 3 P’s in practice? Here’s our experience…
PEOPLE: In the traditional sense, the people part of the extended 3 P’s refers to employees, because in the service sector, how employees interact with people can be the reason for a sale and even a repeat purchase. Therefore happy, skilled staff equal happy, satisfied customers. By offering a better level of pre-sales and after-sales support, you can gain that all important advantage over competitors.
We found this to be the case when providing our web design service to a voluntary sector organisation called Talent Match.
The organisation had funding to develop a website aimed at helping young people (who were classed as furthest away from the job market) into work. However, they needed the young people involved in the web design process, but this wasn’t a typical service offered by web design companies.
Trained in the importance of ‘people’ in the marketing mix, and the development of B2B working relationships, our staff accepted the challenge of a new service. We provided focus-groups to the young people that were not only inclusive and informative, but fun and informal. You can see the outcome of that ‘people’ focussed service in our Talent Match case study.
However, offering that personal touch in our service offering didn’t just end there, we also offer continued communication, making sure staff working on projects are always just a phone call or email away; defining the timing of responses based on customer concern, not our own workload.
PROCESS: The processes involved in delivering your marketing function and services will help form your brand reputation, either for good or for bad. Every process you have in place, from contact response times to complaint management needs to meet (and preferably exceed) customer expectations. Basically, the more efficient, easier and understandable the process, the more success you’ll have winning over customers.
An example of how we have supported customers to achieve the process aspect of the marketing mix, is by offering custom made website tools and designs to ease ‘pain points’ within the customer journey and experience.
For a recent project we did for a popular music festival, the client had identified that the original processes were not working well or meeting the needs of their new digital audience. Customers looking to book at a number of individual venues were being redirected from their original website to another site. They were also struggling to use the site on their mobiles and this caused further confusion and frustration.
To make the process more customer-centric, we updated the digital system to ease the booking process, making it a seamless transition for both the customers and B2B music venues to manage and monitor. By ensuring that the customer-preferred channel for booking was fit-for-purpose resulted in an increase in ticket sales from the previous year, and a wider audience reach.
PHYSICAL EVIDENCE: For a business to meet the physical evidence variable of the extended 3 P’s they must carefully choose how to portray their image through their physical presence; their premises, marketing collateral, staff appearance etc. This is an important aspect for companies that don’t actually have a physical product to offer, as their image can be crucial in influencing customers to conduct business with them.
For companies that only offer intangible services, this is an aspect that can’t be ignored. Careful consideration of the appearance of your place of work, right down to the business cards you hand out, must work together to portray your brand message.
In an online context, each company website is a virtual ‘shop front.’ So the design and appearance often determines if visitors will stay and engage further. An outdated website, with poor function, portrays an outdated company, with poor understanding of their customer’s needs.
To support businesses to achieve the physical evidence part of the marketing mix, we provide websites that represent the companies brand values, as in the case of a driving school client. This client found that their website wasn’t attracting, or keeping visitors, with its outdated appearance possibly damaging its overall reputation.
The website needed to be updated to integrate with the offline experience and the message the company wished to portray. The driving school already utilised modern, bright and fun vehicles for students to learn in, and had enthusiastic and friendly instructors; the website and associated social media pages needed to portray that too.
Within a short time of improving the website with bright colours, easy navigation and fun, friendly content, the image of the business became more noticeable to visitors. Website users began staying for longer and the results for that business was a huge increase in enquiries which you can see here.
Within the service industry, the extended 3 P’s are actually very useful at helping businesses to achieve a competitive advantage; which is why we don’t just try and implement them in our own practices, but also support our clients to achieve these variables for their business services.
However, to be useful, they must be put into practice and developed on the individual needs of a company’s specific market. One size just doesn’t fit all.
By understanding each aspect of the 3 P’s and auditing your own business offerings, you should be able to identify areas for improvement that can be addressed within budget. This will then provide you with a stronger value proposition as well as establish you as a reputable business that works hard to meet the needs of its customers.
Have you recently supported a business to put one of the 3 P’s in to practice?
What lessons have you learnt from the extended marketing mix?
We’d love to hear your experiences, results and ideas below.