Services Marketing Mix refers to the combination of marketing activities an organization engages in to promote and sell intangible services, as opposed to tangible products. Marketing professionals and specialist use many tactics to attract and retain their customers. These activities comprise of different concepts, the most important one being the marketing mix. Marketing strategy is integrated with the marketing program, or marketing mix. The marketing mix traditionally includes variables such as price, product, promotion, and place.
For this reason, the marketing mix deals more with implementation, and is not defined specifically as part of marketing strategy.
Marketing mix is frequently used in combination with strategy to help marketing managers promote their product and/or service and it provides a useful framework for decision-making. The first P, product, in the marketing mix involves determining the products or services to offer for sale. “The product area is concerned with developing the right “product” for the target market. ” (Perrault & McCarthy, 2004, p. 38). The product refers to tangible products and intangible services.
Marketing research is vital in developing the marketing mix and continues throughout the marketing process. Research allows the business to discover what products or services the consumer wants, needs or desires. “If you don’t understand what the market needs first, you can’t possibly put the Ps to work effectively” (Scott, 2004,). The services marketing mix is an extension of the 4-Ps framework. The essential elements of product, promotion, price and place remain but three additional variables – people, physical evidence and process – are included to 7–Ps mix.
The need for the extension is due to the high degree of direct contact between the providers and the customers, the highly visible nature of the service process, and the simultaneity of the production and consumption. While it is possible to discuss people, physical evidence and process within the original-Ps framework (for example people can be considered part of the product offering) the extension allows a more thorough analysis of the marketing ingredients necessary for successful services marketing.
People – because of the simultaneity of production and consumption in services the staff occupy the key position in influencing customer’s perceptions of product quality. In fact the service quality is inseparable from the quality of service provider. An important marketing task is to set standards to improve quality of services provided by employees and monitor their performance. Without training and control employees tend to be variable in their performance leading to variable service quality.
In addition to the four Ps of traditional product marketing–product, price, place and promotion–the services marketing mix includes the three Ps of service marketing–people, process and physical evidence. The Services Marketing Mix is also referred to as the Extended Marketing Mix. The Four Ps In his seminal book, “Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach,” E. Jerome McCarthy introduced the four Ps classification system that is the cornerstone of traditional marketing. Product refers to the tangible and intangible benefits of a product or service, and how it meets customers’ needs.
Price refers to the appropriateness of the pricing structure of a product or service. Place refers to the availability to customers of a product or service. Promotion refers to efforts to make a target audience aware of a product or service. People Unlike products, which are consumed independently from the individuals responsible for creating them, people play an integral role in the consumption of services. Customer satisfaction for services consumption is based upon the quality of interactions with the personnel who provide the service.
In addition to skills and knowledge relative to the provision of services, services personnel must also have an aptitude for interpersonal communication. Process Process refers to the systems an organization implements in order to facilitate the delivery of services. Efficient and effective processes allow service delivery personnel to anticipate customer needs, identify and implement appropriate solutions, and respond to customer feedback in order to improve service delivery. Service delivery processes can improve customer satisfaction, increase customer retention, and increase the value of a service offering.
Physical Evidence Physical evidence refers to the tangible and intangible elements that comprise the environment in which services are delivered. Tangible aspects of service delivery are the physical elements of the service environment that influence customer opinions about the overall service. For example, a clean and comfortable restaurant interior can improve customers’ perceptions of the dining experience. Intangible aspects of service delivery–such as reputation and the opinion’s of other customers–are the immaterial elements of the service environment that influence customer perceptions.