B2B Services Marketing and Addressing Intangibility

Services are intangible and this can present difficulty for new clients during their evaluation and purchasing process. In real terms this means that potential new customers must trust the business – often this means taking a risk. Because of this they will be looking for ways to judge the performance of the business prior to engagement.

An important part of B2B marketing for services or business with a services component is effective prepositioning. This is critical to ensuring conversion of new clients and increasing the win rate for bids and tenders.

An important part of pre-positioning for business to business marketing are the elements that address intangibility and provide prospective clients with evidence of performance. MJH Group labels the factors that address intangibility as the Symbols of Authority.

Symbols of Authority

Symbols of Authority are the physical displays and associated elements that help a client to feel safe and secure that the service will be performed as promised and that the company is a safe pair of hands to do business with.

Typically symbols of Authority for B2B marketing are;

  • Offices – Corporate office and physical presence in regions
  • Brand – A well known brand name within the industry
  • Corporate Sponsorships – Visibility in the broader market place via corporate or event sponsorships
  • Advertising – Moving to regular exposure in the industry via advertising in trade publications
  • Management Visibility – Senior management being quoted in the press or interviewed re industry issues
  • Management Experience – Demonstrating the experience and competence of the management team will be critical to client confidence
  • Operational Experience – Demonstrating sufficient operational experience and depth of staff to delivery projects
  • Vehicles – many branded vehicles on the road
  • Business Heritage – Demonstrating that the company is here to stay by highlighting to a strong heritage
  • Existing Customers – Highlighting and displaying marquee customers and known brands that are serviced by the business
  • Client Relationships – Continuing to build and nurture client relationships and continuing the good account management disciplines that are in place for key accounts
  • Staff Certification – Demonstrating the competence of the key members of the operational team and highlighting employment standards and philosophy
  • Comprehensive Training Programs – In line with documented procedures, demonstrating comprehensive training programs and ongoing staff training and assessment provides assurance of reliability
  • Documented Procedures – Demonstrating that nothing is left to chance in the delivery of the service including ISO accreditation
  • Proof of Performance – Testimonials from existing customers and service level and KPI reporting and metrics
  • Response – SLA driven response windows and emergency response services
  • Stakeholder Management – Ability to manage media and stakeholders to positive effect
  • Ongoing Communication – Providing ongoing communication to customers that the service has been completed on schedule without mishap. This can be in daily or weekly reporting along with remittance or in formal KPI reviews.
  • Sample of Service – Enabling customers to sample the services with a trial location or area before they commit to a national role out with the company
  • Insurance Cover – Demonstrate the level of insurance cover held by the business and provide insurance certificates – this is covered in the tender process
  • Case Studies, Testimonials & References – as with advertising, case studies and references are not strictly part of the “product” however they are an important part of the purchasing decision

MJH Group is a specialist marketing consultancy with significant experience in B2B Marketing and driving organisational growth. If you have any questions about this article or getting the most from your B2B marketing program please contact us on 1300 905 116 or via email enquiries@mjhgroup.com.au