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Using the 4 P’s at Your Home Service Business

A few months back, we wrote a short blog about “3 Reasons Why Your Services is Your Product.” In that blog, we outlined why home services businesses that don’t sell a physical product should still consider your “service” as a “product”. At the end of that blog we mentioned a marketing technique called The Marketing Mix and in this blog we will expand on a famous classification of this tool named “The 4Ps of Marketing.” We recognize that many small business owners will not have attended business school so here’s our useful overview that you can put into practice and make your life easier when taking your services to market.

To many marketers, the four “P” words (commonly, and more aptly, known as the 4Ps) are the golden fundamentals of all marketing. The 4Ps are the starting point to success in marketing your business and your services. For small business owners that often only think of marketing as something only big firms with big budgets do, the 4Ps may seem a bit of a mystery, but by following the simple framework you can transform your thinking and take your services to market more effectively. And more effective marketing creates more demand, leading to increased revenues.

Developed in the 1960 by E. Jerome McCarthy, a marketing professor at Michigan State University, the 4Ps stand for product, place, promotion, and price; the four key elements of marketing any product or service.

Product: Be clear about exactly what you are selling to your customers. You may not have a tangible product to sell but know if you are selling “home cleaning services”, “landscaping services” or “pest control services.” The more precise you are with telling people what service you are selling, the greater the chance you’ll end up targeting the right people: those people who want to buy your services.
Place: Where will you be selling your services? Will it be online via sites such as Angie’s List, on your company’s website, via the telephone, or using some or all of these techniques? Here you are deciding on how people will be able to buy from you. By making it simple, you can encourage more people to buy without needing to ask many questions because questions create confusion, and confusion drives potential customers away.
Promotion: How will you promote your business and services? Will you advertise in local newspapers, or display your logo on your field service representatives’ vehicles? Even the subtle use of your logo on a business card or estimate is an example of Promotion. Think carefully about where and how you want your future customers to find out about you.
Price: Decide on how you will charge for your services. Is it by the job, by the hour, by the square foot, or by some other measurement? How will you incorporate your running costs and overheads? Whatever approach suits your business should be clear and transparent to your customer, and price with no hidden charges. And remember to add some margin too because you still need to make a profit.

In recent times, marketers have expanded this framework into the 7Ps however we will keep it straightforward will stick with this
shorter model. But what do you think of this model, and what are your experiences of adopting this?

3 Reasons Why Your Service is Your Product

As a small home service business, you deliver a service or some services to your customers.  That’s an obvious statement; but have you considered that this is your product?

The reason for asking this apparently bizarre question is that one such home service business commented recently that “we don’t sell products”.  In a sense this is true because there’s no physical item at the end of the process; it’s not as if they’re selling an iPad, a motor vehicle, dishwasher, or anything else.  But by taking such an intangible approach and assuming that the customer cannot see anything, the home service business is actually making life more difficult for themselves.  How do you sell something that essentially doesn’t exist?

When a business designs and sells a product, decisions are made about how it looks, how it feels, its features, what makes it unique, and what attracts the buyer to part with their cash and make a purchase.  But there’s no reason why these types of decisions shouldn’t be made when defining your service.

Here are three reasons why:

  1. Differentiation – make yourself stand out from your local competitors and define what is so special and different about your service.  In the same way that a physical product manufacturer cares about the aesthetics that make their product look unique, apply this logic to your service to help make it stand-out and sell.
  2. Vision – despite the earlier comment about selling something that “doesn’t exist”, the reality is: it does exist.  By defining exactly what you are selling, you can then paint a picture, a vision, in the mind of the customer.  They may not physically “see” your product but by outlining exactly what the customer gets, they will clearly “get it.”
  3. Tangibility – how you market your product is more than just the product itself because you need to look at how you price and promote this, and where you sell it.  By ignoring the product aspect and not describing your service, you have nothing to price and promote: there’s nothing to sell!

The third point from the list introduces the powerful, but simple, technique called the Marketing Mix and we will provide an overview of this in a forthcoming blog.

As a small home service business, what are your thoughts about this perspective?

3 Marketing Essentials for Home Service Businesses

You can have the best appliance repair company around; you can be a cleaning company with excellent customer service and reviews; or you can excel in other ways as a top home service business, but without marketing your company properly, it will not grow, no matter the quality of your products or services.  There are three marketing essentials that are necessary to the success of your home service business.

1.     Know What You Are Selling

This may seem obvious but it is an essential starting point – know the intimate details of the products and services you are selling.  Be able to answer every question that’s related to, well, anything!  Price; how it works; what the customer will receive; how long it takes; why you and not a competitor of yours; guarantees; support; discounts; the list is almost endless.  The point is, if you don’t know what you are selling in minute detail, then how would you expect the customer to understand and commit themselves to making a purchase?

 2.      Website

Your website is this century’s business card, store visit, and first impression.  When people are looking for a service, the first thing they do is search for it online.  If you don’t have a website, or you have a poorly designed website, you are losing customers, straight off the bat, to your competitors.  A good website instils a sense of trust in a potential customer.  It is their window (literally…customers really do window-shop online!) into your business and how you operate.  Hire a quality website designer to build your site.  It may cost more originally, but it will pay off in the long run.

 3.     Call to Action

A call to action is a direction or request that you give a potential customer.  On your website this might be a “Contact Us” button, or “Get a Free Quote” button.  With print marketing, this could be a coupon sent to customers urging “Hand this to your technician on their next visit for 30% off.”  The idea behind a call to action is to get potential customers and current customers to take action in engaging with your company.  You are essentially giving guidance which will lead to a sale.  Calls to action imply urgency and often coerce consumers into believing they need your company’s services right now.

Take a look at your home service business.  Do you apply these marketing concepts to running your business?  If you do, give yourself a pat on the back, but don’t take your eye off the ball; this requires continual focus on your part.  If you don’t, then start implementing them now to help you on a path to success.