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Services vs Goods  

Marketing Professional Services vs Consumer Products

What’s the Difference?

Consumer product companies and professional services firms are both concerned with extending brand presence and gaining market share, but there are some important differences in how their marketing missions are accomplished.

Over the years, brandUNITY and its principals have worked extensively with rapidly growing professional services companies, including architectural services, legal firms, dental care, medical clinics, engineering and consulting businesses. We also frequently work with product-based businesses particularly to plan, extend, and manage brand families.

Here are several important characteristics in the marketing that we commonly see differentiating the marketing approach of a professional services business from that of a consumer products business:

1. The marketing driver for professional services firms is expertise and customer service; the wider the public awareness of expertise and excellent professional reputation, the higher the rates a professional services firm can command.

2. The relationship between the services firm and its key practitioners is often mutually interdependent. The brand reputation of the primary leaders is often tightly linked to the services firm itself, in the mind of the consumer. With product-based companies, this is more frequently not true or important.

3. For a professional, marketing expert services, one of the major goals in moving a client-to-be through the buying process is to establish trust and reassurance in the relationship. Great emphasis must be placed on communicating with their clients to help the client feel stability and solidarity with the service provider. The client must come to know and believe that the service provider is capable of delivering the non-tangible expertise they are seeking.

4. Marketing tools that increase the credibility of professional service providers help build the reassurance that prospective buyers needs to make a buying decision. If the purchase is made without adequate foundation, the service relationship is more likely to go awry despite initial buy-in.

5. It often is valuable to raise the brand presence of the principals to attract and grow business for the services firm. The firm will benefit by having one or more of the major partners performing regularly as a widely visible rainmaker with a highly targeted PR program that involves speaking at conferences, writing books, publishing articles, writing key whitepapers, and submitting regular press releases.

6. Among many medical, legal, and financial services providers, there is a long-standing tradition of regulation against overt advertisement and business competitive practices that other industries take in stride. Though attitudes against competitive marketing strategies have greatly subsided over the past ten years, these tendencies do still persist, particularly among legal services firms, medical firms, and dental services. By tradition, marketing programs in these industries often are understated, with focus on publicity and expertise building rather than overt advertising.

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