No matter what type of business you operate, you are providing either a product or a service, or in some cases, both. A product has physical properties that appeal to the five senses, while services may fulfill more abstract needs. As a result, products are not necessarily marketed to consumers in the same manner as services.
Tangible vs. Intangible
Products are tangible, which makes it easier for the consumer to see what they can do for her. A vacuum cleaner salesperson can demonstrate how the product works and even allow prospects to try the product themselves. With services, it can be more difficult for the user to see the true benefits. This may require companies that sell services to rely more on creating an image of dependability, such as an insurance company.
Products allow for easier differentiation than services. Consumers shopping for refrigerators in an appliance store can easily see the differences from one model to the next, which allows them to compare. With services, it often requires much closer inspection to discern the real differences. As a result, when marketing services, companies often need to stay away from giving detailed product information and focus more on the value provided by the service.
Creating a Need
Services often rely more on a person for marketing purposes than do products. A quality product may be able to "sell itself" more readily, such as a shiny new vehicle that captures the eye of a potential buyer. Services may require more creative selling techniques and rely more on the ability of the salesperson to create a need for the service. Prospects often need to be convinced that purchasing life or disability insurance fulfills an important need in their lives. A well-crafted sales process may be needed to create the need in the mind of the prospect.
Service After Sale
Products can often be returned to the manufacturer or distributor if the customer isn't satisfied with the purchase. With a service, there usually is no product to return. As a result, service providers may need to emphasize their willingness to provide service after the sale to build consumer trust. Financial planners often emphasize that they will be available for their clients to update their portfolios as their financial needs change over the years.