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Selling the air

Why services marketing matters for all B2B organizations

Promoting B2B products and promoting B2B professional services and consulting used to be two different things.

The first was all about features and innovation, the second a way to deliver efficiency or expertise to business processes. Marketers could specialize and spend an entire career in one niche or the other.

Technology blurs the line between product and service

Innovations blur what used to be hard and fast lines. For example:

  • Software is now a service, residing in the cloud rather than the desktop.
  • Distribution and logistics firms are rethinking their offerings as music, video, games and books no longer require physical inventory or shipping.
  • A push to automate paper-based processes is driving everything from the accounts receivable workflow to our medical records into a virtual world.

In essence, products and services are now paired up like salt and pepper. Every B2B marketer needs a working knowledge of best practices for marketing services and consulting.

Keys to success with service offerings

The key challenge in marketing a service is clearly defining its boundaries for your audience. Too often, B2B marketers describe their service offerings in vague and ambigous terms that only confuse potential customers:

  • “Expert assistance to help you grow your business.”
  • “Skilled technicians to improve your efficiency and performance.”
  • “Experienced consultants who understand the complex issues affecting your company.”

Messaging for B2B services needs to be narrow, focused and relevant. It needs names, features, benefits and value propositions—just like a physical product. And, because it’s delivered by people, staff need to be perceived as experts and trusted advisors. Relationships and behavior become critical.

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