The term “marketing mix” could suggest that marketing managers are mixers of ingredients. Is that perspective a recipe for success when employing the 7 Ps to develop a services marketing strategy? The marketing mix is a business tool used in marketing products. The marketing mix is often crucial when determining a product or brand's unique selling point, meaning that the unique quality that differentiates a product from its competitors, and is often synonymous with the 4 Ps: price, product, promotion, and place. However, in recent times, the 4Ps have been expanded to the 7 Ps with the addition of process, physical evidence and people.
Marketing mix is not a scientific theory, but merely a conceptual framework that identifies the principal decision making managers make in configuring their offerings to suit consumers’ needs. The tools can be used to develop both long term strategies and short term tactical program (Palmer, 2004). According to Chai (2009), the idea of marketing mix is the same idea as when mixing a cake. A baker will alter the proportions of ingredients in a cake depending on the type of cake we wishes to bake. So, the proportions in the marketing mix can be altered in the same way and differ from the product to product.
When applying marketing mix, the managers can be the mixer of the ingredients especially when it comes to the service marketing strategy. The main reason the marketing mix is it makes marketing seem easy to handle, allows the separation of marketing from other activities of the firm and the delegation of marketing tasks to specialist, and the components of the marketing mix can change a firm’s competitive position (Gronroos, 1994). Chai (2009) pointed out that the marketing mix concept also has two important benefits.
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First, it is an important tool used to enable one to see that the marketing manager’s job. Second is it helps to reveal another dimension of the marketing manager’s job. Thus, this could help the managers to clearly understand on what exactly they have to do in order to alter the traditional 4Ps in the service marketing. In order to develop service marketing strategy, the traditional 4Ps can be implemented but needs some alter in this strategy. The 4Ps will not satisfy in the service marketing strategy due to its focus in term of the product not the service provide.
Moller (2006) highlighted that the shortcomings of the 4Ps marketing mix framework, as the pillars of the traditional marketing management have frequently become the target of intense criticism. The concept of 4Ps has been criticism as being a production-based definition of marketing, and not a customer-oriented (Popovic, 2006). As according to the book of Service Marketing (seventh edition), the 7Ps are integrated into wider organizing framework, combining it with the consumer and competitor analysis, as well as implementation.
This is shown that the 4Ps are not adequate enough to deal with the issues arising from marketing services and have to be adapted and extended. In addition, the traditional marketing mix does not cover on how to managing the customer in terms of customers interface for example like the customer preferences, complaint, managing customer waiting, so on and so forth. The 7Ps can represent the ingredients required to create viable strategies for meeting customer needs profitably in a competitive marketplace.
Considering others factors rather than the product oriented strategies may bring to the success of the service marketing strategies. This is because the managers consider the aspect of four parts that are first, understanding service products, consumers and markets; second is applying the 4Ps of marketing to services; third is managing the customer interface and lastly, is implementing profitable service strategies. The 7Ps are in included in all of the part, so that employs the 7Ps will result to success in developing the service marketing strategies.
Lets we go through the all 7Ps of marketing mix that have been altered from the 4Ps of the traditional marketing mix. First of all, is about the product element. The product design must be attractive enough and create meaningful value for the customers. Planning the marketing mix begins with creating service concept that will offer value to target customers and satisfy their needs better than competing alternatives. Service product in this 7Ps altered consists of 2 elements which are core product and supplementary service elements.
According to the book Service Marketing 7th edition, the core product is the central component that supplies the principal, problem solving benefits customers seek. The supplementary service is the variety of other service-related activities referred that usually accompanied the core product. The core products tend to become commodities as an industry matures and competition increase, so the search for competitive and advantage often emphasize supplementary services. For example, in the hotels industry, the core product is the rooms provided.
The supplementary services with regard to the hotel industry are the information obtained by the customer; order taking that includes applications, order entry, and reservations or check-ins; the billing; and also payment in terms of is the hotel have variety of payment options exist, and in terms of how convenience and ease that options to the customers. The next Ps is place and time. Nowadays, services distributions not only involve a physical channel but also electronic channels or can use both depend on the nature of the service itself.
The more ease and convenience the service distributions, will results to the higher satisfaction of the consumer. The distribution of the core product will accompanied by the supplementary services due to the increasing the used of sophisticated technology. For example, nowadays bank’s offer its customers a choice of distribution channels. Despite of visiting the branches, the customers can conduct bank transactions by doing it online using the internet banking. For example like making a bill payment, the customer of Maybank can just pay through e-billing in the Maybank website without leaving their own house.
The billing payment is the supplementary product for the bank services. Other examples are like today banks are also provided services like using a network of ATMs and doing business by telephone. In term of the time, speed and convenience of place and time have become important determinant of effective’s distribution and delivery of services. Nowadays, many services are delivered in real time while the customers are physically present. The third Ps is price and other user outlays.
The service provider should use the dynamic pricing strategy and must always remember that do not set the prices only for the target that the customer are willing and be able to pay but also must consider whether the cost is ‘worth it’ or not with the service that they may go beyond just money and assess the outlays of the customers time and effort. It is possible for the service provider not to include any of these outlays such as additional cost like travel expenses to go to the service location, time expenditure, unwanted mental and physical effort and exposure to negative sensory experiences.
Customers may not prefer any additional cost or hidden cost during the services that are giving to them. Customers always prefer and particular about the exact cost of the service that they wanted and if it had any additional cost, the service provider should tell them exactly at that particular moment. Despite that, we know that service is intangible and something that cannot be inventoried. In the service industry, during the peak demands customers may be feeling disappointed or have been asked to wait until later to get the services. Time would be another outlay for the customers to be avoided.
So as the service provider, they need to find the ways of smoothing demands level to match available capacity using dynamic pricing strategies. The forth Ps is promotion and education. The ability to speak and persuade customers to buy or use our product or service is a must in marketing. Effective communication is a crucial part in marketing programs in order to success. There are three vital roles in this component, which are providing needed information and advice, persuading target customers of the merits of a specific brand or service product and encouraging them to take action at specific time.
While education here is referring to the information about the service provided. The service provider needs to teach their customers regarding the benefits of the service, where and when to obtain it, how to participate in service processes to get the best results. Service is intangible and often difficult to visualize and understand. So that, customers need to be educated on how to best use a service. Usually service providers or firms are thinking that they should give the best service ever and helping the customers to solve their problems and fulfill their needs and wants.
Not just that, they ensure that communications not only provide information for customers but also persuade the customer of the service’s relevance to the customer’s particular problem. But now, customers also play important roles in the process service delivering. If the you knows how to use well the service, they will not only have a better experience and outcome but also greater efficiency may boost the firm’s productivity, lower its costs, and even enable it to reduce the price you pay. The next Ps is the additional Ps in the service marketing which is process.
The process means that by which the firm delivers product or service elements. Service process is the way in which a service is delivered to the end customer. Let’s take the example of two very good companies that are Mc’ Donalds and Fedex. Both the companies thrive on their quick service and the reason they can do that is their confidence on their processes. On top of it, the demand of these services is such that they have to deliver optimally without a loss in quality. Thus the process of a service company in delivering its product is of utmost importance.
It is also a critical component in the service blueprint, wherein before establishing the service, the company defines exactly what should be the process of the service product reaching the end customer. The more ‘high contact’ your product, and the more intangible, the more important it is to get your processes right. Service provider must remember to look at this from the customers’ point of view. The process problems that are most annoying to a customer are those that are designed for the provider’s convenience, not the customer.
In addition, in the service marketing, customer also involve in co-production. In some service circumstances, it is requires customers to get involved actively in co-producing the service product. For example, in the gym services. Customer needs to be involved in order to completed the service that given by the service provider. The customers that go to the gym may have got the direction on how to use the equipment or questions about personal training from the personal trainer. Despite of that, physical environment or physical evidence is also an additional Ps in the service marketing mix.
As said before, services are intangible in nature. However, to create a better customer experience tangible elements are also delivered with the service. Take an example of a restaurant which has only chairs and tables and good food, or a restaurant which has ambient lighting, nice music along with good seating arrangement and this also serves good food. Which one will you prefer? The one with the nice ambience. Ambient here refers to those characteristics of the environment that pertain to the human’s five senses.
The ambient conditions re perceived both separately and holistically and include lighting and color schemes, size and shape perceptions, sounds such as noise and music, temperature, and scents or smells. For example in the restaurant, the slow-music that played in the restaurant makes the customers to spent longer in that restaurant. Same goes with the shopping complex. Playing familiar music in a store was shown to stimulate the shoppers and thereby reduce their browsing time. Instead of the store playing an unfamiliar music, it will induce shoppers to spend more time there. The next important ambient is scent.
Scent or smell which pervades an environment, may or may not be consciously perceived by customers and is not related to any particular product. For example like in the lobby hotel, they usually use a flora scent for make the customers feel relaxing and calming. Despite music and scent, color also have it owns different impact on people’s feelings. The colors like red, yellow and orange are the warm colors, while blue, green, indigo, and violet are the cool colors. These colors plays it own role to stimulate people emotions and expressions towards the surrounding environment.
Several times, physical evidence is used as a differentiator in service marketing. Imagine a private hospital and a government hospital. A private hospital will have plush offices and well dressed staff. Same cannot be said for a government hospital. Thus physical evidence acts as a differentiator. When you sell tangible goods, you can offer your customer the chance to ‘try before they buy’, or at least see, touch or smell. With services, unless you offer a free trial, your customer will often be buying on trust.
And to help them do so you need to provide as much evidence of the quality you will be providing as possible. This element also called as servicescape. Servicescape is a concept to emphasize the impact of the physical environment in which a service process takes place. Servicescape as the environment in which the service is assembled and in which the seller and customer interact, combined with tangible commodities that facilitate performance or communication of the service (Booms and Bitner, 1981). Last but not least of the Ps are people.
People are one of the elements of service marketing mix. People define a service. If you have an IT company, your software engineers define you. If you have a restaurant, your chef and service staff defines you. If you are into banking, employees in your branch and their behavior towards customers define you. In case of service marketing, people can make or break an organization. Thus many companies nowadays are involved into specially getting their staff trained in interpersonal skills and customer service with a focus towards customer satisfaction.
The impact that your people can have on your marketing cannot be underestimated. At its most obvious, this element covers your front line sales and customer service staff who will have a direct impact on how your product is perceived. You need to consider the knowledge and skills of your staff such as their motivation and investment in supporting your brand. Any element of the marketing mix will also have its impact on other elements of your business, but the people element is one where the importance of regarding marketing as an integral part of the way you do business is crystal clear.
Provide the front line sales with better communication skills and also how to manage conflict and complain also plays an important role when doing business with customers. This is because those skills can manage such situation that are unexpected and can be controlled effectively and in a good manner. As the service provider, a company or an organizations needs to sent their employees for further training in order to keep their employees up-to-date and at the same times, improve their skills in communicate and handle any conflicts and complaints made by the customers.
That is why people in the marketing mix is also very important in developing the service marketing strategy. In the nutshell, by using the 7Ps the marketing managers can develop service marketing strategy very well. By adding three Ps in the traditional marketing mix is really helps in service marketing in order to succeed their service delivering to the customers or consumers. As we all know, even to deliver a good product to customer or consumer, there are still included a service or vice versa.
Marketing mix used by a particular firm will vary according to its resources, market conditions and changing needs of clients. The importance of some elements within the marketing mix will vary at any one point in time. Decisions cannot be made on one element of the marketing mix without considering its impact on other elements. So, with these seven’s marketing mix will really help the marketing manager to develop a service marketing strategy in order to give a better service and product through an effective and efficient ways.
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