Selling the Intangible: How to Effectively Market a
By Sheryl Batchelder
respects, selling a product is easy. You have an item you can show
and demonstrate to people when in person, and something you can take
photos of for your marketing pieces. Even more important, your
prospects can use multiple senses to make a buying decision. For
example, they can hear the hum of the car’s engine…they can see the
beautiful and vibrant color of the artwork…they can touch the
clothing’s fabric…they can smell the designer perfume…they can taste
the delicious baked goods. You have numerous ways to make the
product “real” for your prospects.
services, however, is a completely different animal. You don’t have
an item to show people, and there’s nothing to photograph for your
marketing pieces. As such, it’s often more difficult to sell a
service. But difficult does not mean impossible. You simply have to
be very clear and extremely creative in your marketing packages so
your prospects take notice and understand what they’re buying.
That’s why so many service-based companies are now going the extra
mile with such things as leather presentation binders, gold embossed
and natural fiber proposal folders, and other touches that help
create marketing materials that truly stand out
high-end your services are, the more that people expect your
marketing materials to be unique and ornate. In such cases, it’s all
about the presentation materials, whether it’s a pre-sale proposal
package (such as an RFP) or a post-sale document folder (such as
closing documents for a vacation ownership program). In these cases,
your materials are not just marketing pieces; they’re who you are.
When you’re selling a service, you’re really branding your company
or the experience the service will give your prospect.
is that with the right marketing package, you can have your
prospects saying “yes” to your service at the first hello. In other
words, you want your clients to be so impressed with your marketing
materials that they say, “As soon as I received your package I knew
I would do business with you.” Following are the keys to making that
Decide on the look or feel you want to convey to your prospects:
Every company has an image it wants to portray, including yours.
Before you can design any marketing piece, you need to be clear on
that image. Many companies have a rough idea of the look or feel
they want their marketing pieces to convey, but they’re not
confident that their image is correct or even marketable. If you are
unsure what your company’s image is or how strong it is, then hire
the services of marketing professional who truly understands your
vision and who can help you articulate it.
pinpointing an image often so difficult? Because the world is
changing so fast. Every business is constantly evolving. As such,
it’s difficult to figure out where you are currently, especially
when you’re so close to it. And since companies are always trying to
reinvent themselves, defining an image isn’t something you do only
once. Chances are your company is always changing, and that means
you’ll have to change your marketing pieces and the feeling they
convey every two to three years, if not sooner.
Do your research: Be sure you find a manufacturing or printing
partner that is willing to work outside of the box. Since you’re
selling a service, you can’t have run of the mill marketing pieces
or packaging. But many manufacturers will only do “standard” things.
So even if you design a wonderful and creative package, your
manufacturer may not be able to create it. They may ask you to
compromise material, size, or quality. That’s why you need to find a
company that’s willing to take chances and try something different
process, also look for a marketing piece manufacturer who will
educate you on what will and will not work. Many times a company
will go to a manufacturer with a beautifully designed marketing
package that is simply not functional. For example, a fine-dining
restaurant wanted their menus printed on wallpaper rather than
standard paper. While using wallpaper instead of paper is a growing
trend, this restaurant chose wallpaper that was a natural material,
which meant it would show oil and grease—not a good choice for a
restaurant. The restaurant spent $300,000 printing their menus. Two
weeks into the restaurant’s operations, the menus did not hold up
and had to be redone. It was a costly mistake that they could have
easily avoided had they done their research.
possible, work with a manufacturer during the design phase and
listen carefully to their creative and practical advice. Many
service-based companies are creating marketing pieces out of
materials that have never been used before, such as wallpaper,
copper, aluminum, and hand-stitched leather, just to name a few.
Some materials work and some don’t. It all depends on the material
and the intended use. You certainly don’t want to find out your idea
won’t work after it’s created.
Spend the money on a prototype: When you have a marketing piece
that is complex or using a unique material, you definitely want a
prototype. If you don’t spend the money on a prototype, you may end
up with a final product that is not exactly what you wanted.
Depending on your marketing piece’s complexity and design time
involved, your prototype can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a
few thousand dollars, but it’s money well spent. You want to
eliminate all surprises and know what your final product will look
and feel like. After all, your marketing piece is your company’s
image and your prospect’s first experience with you—make it a good
Creativity = Profits: In today’s marketplace, competition is
fierce. Many companies offer similar services for similar pricing,
which is why you need an immediate edge over the competition. Your
marketing pieces and packaging are the perfect way to set your
company above the crowd. In fact, if everything else is equal, your
prospects will go with the company who has the best image—and
they’ll make that decision based on the marketing items you send
them. So break the mold and get creative. Use the new materials and
packaging options available. Do what you must to set your services
ahead of the pack. When it comes to selling services, a little
creativity goes a long way to positively impacting your company’s
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about Sheryl Batchelder.
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