Marketing Services vs. Products: Is There a Difference?

by | Jun 1, 2009 | Creating Products, Marketing & Selling

When I conducted a survey of all my readers a few months back, one of the top questions was “How do you market services? Is it different than marketing products?”

That gave me pause. For on some instinctual level I knew that marketing services and products was both the same and different, but I had never articulated this before. So I did a little research to help me focus my thoughts and what I found is that the experts are pretty much divided on this topic.

There are those that believe marketing is marketing, regardless if what you offer is a service or product. And then there are those who beg to differ. But here’s how I see it: The basics of marketing apply to both products and services, just the specifics need to be tailored to what you are offering.

Let me explain.

Products are tangible goods. You purchase a product … a soccer ball, a cup of coffee, a book, a trash compactor … and you get something that you can touch, see, feel.

Services are intangible. You can’t touch a diaper delivery service. You can’t see coaching. You can’t feel concierge services. At least not in a direct way.

And this is the key difference between the two: tangibility.

With a product, it is easy for the consumer to evaluate what they are about to purchase. They can look at it. Kick the tires. Taste it. Listen to it. Experience it in a way that doesn’t really cost the seller much. But with a service, the service provider would have to give up valuable time and energy to give the client a similar sampling experience.

So, marketers of services have come up with a number of low-cost, ingenious ways to offer a “free taste” or “test drive” of their services. Some are free, others are at a nominal cost.

  • Newsletters
  • Special Reports
  • White Papers
  • Seminars
  • Teleseminars
  • Workshops
  • Group Sessions

Of course, marketers of products use these techniques, as well, but with a different emphasis and intent. What I plan to talk about in this month’s Monday posts is how to use a variety of marketing techniques to market products and services and how you might use them differently, depending on what you market.


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