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Service vs. Product Marketing

Nickle Electrical is a service-based company, as are many others in the construction industry – general contractors, architects, engineers, etc. Some may think that marketing is just marketing. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. There is a large difference between marketing techniques for companies who are service-based, like Nickle, and others that are product-based, such as a hardware store. To understand the marketing approach for both a service and product, it’s essential to understand their differences first.

In the simplest terms, products are physical objects – clothing, dog food, home decorations, office supplies. These products have a certain size, shape, look, and weight to them. Services are intangible – electrical work, lawn care, dry cleaning, legal advice. These services are actions related to your home or business.


Services vs. Products

  • As mentioned above, services are intangible, with no physical look, shape, or weight. Services simply provide an experience that has an end result. While products are physical beings that can be seen, touched, and felt.
  • Services are all about creating relationships and trust with the customer, while a product may simply satisfy a want or need in a specific moment.
  • Services are performed instead of created. Certain products may be used to perform those services, but they are not the result of a service. Products are produced and are typically done so in mass quantities.
  • Quality comparisons are different for services and products. It’s more difficult to determine the quality of a project until the company has finished providing the service. You won’t know right away that a service will end in a terrible paint job. But right away you’ll be able to tell whether a product is of high-quality or poorly made before you make the purchase.
  • Services are typically customized for each specific customer. Not every person wants the same electrical work done in their home. Not every person has the same lawn that requires the same lawn care as their neighbor. On the flip side, the exact same product, such as a pair of pants, can be sold to hundreds of people at once.
  • Since services are not physically produced, they cannot be stocked and pre-packaged, as those hundreds of pairs of pants can.
  • It’s incredibly difficult to undo a service, and it cannot be returned. Imagine trying to undo bad legal advice you were given. More services can be provided to resolve that situation, but it cannot be returned. If you don’t like the pair of pants you bought, you can simply return them.
  • Services are always provided by the company you chose to provide that service. Products aren’t always linked to the company who sold them. Just because you bought something from Amazon, doesn’t necessarily mean it was produced by Amazon.


Products Marketing Approach

  • Product marketing promotes and sells a specific product to a specific audience – only people with dogs will want to purchase dog food.
  • The common approach to marketing a product includes 4 P’s – Product, Place, Price, and Promotion.
    • Product – this is the obvious, tangible object that you will be marketing to your audience.
    • Place – it’s important to put a product in the right place at the right time. Where will you customers be so that you can reach them and market your product?
    • Price – this impacts supply, demand, and how much you’ll spend on promotion.
    • Promotion – how are you going to disseminate and publicize your product? Consider social media, advertising, email, and search engines.


Services Marketing Approach

  • Service marketing promotes intangible benefits and solutions for anyone looking for that specific service – young, old, male, female, dog-lover, cat-lover, etc. will need a service at some point in their life.
  • A service description is important to your marketing approach. Because a service is intangible, you must lay out exactly what the service is, why it’s important, and what the result will be.
  • The 4 P’s in product marketing can be applied to service marketing as well, but there are 3 additional P’s for services – People, Process, and Physical Evidence.
    • People – it’s important to focus on both the employees performing the service and the customer receiving the service. Training, skills, and communication are characteristics your employees need to focus on to provide a good customer experience. Every employee is involved in the delivery of a service. The customer sets high expectations and are also involved in the delivery of a service since they provide the details of each customized service and the feedback given once the service is finished.
    • Process – though services are customized to each customer, the process should be delivered consistently across the board. In other words, no matter how you’ve customized the service, it should always be done with the same quality as every other project. Processes also streamline each experience and result in higher efficiency.
    • Physical Evidence – the physical characteristics of provided services is important. This includes both the high-quality result of a paint job, for instance, as well as the high-quality features of your business and its people.


As our world develops and technology advances, there is some overlay between products, services, and the marketing approach to each. For example, when you’re buying a product online, some aspects of services (such as an emphasis on the people providing customer service) will overlap. However, it’s still important to understand the differences between both in order to make your service or product successful.


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