Attention bankers, credit companies, financial advisers, insurance organizations and tax accountants: Are you selling a service, or are you selling a product?
The correct answer is, “Yes!”
The differences between selling a physical product and selling a financial service seem vast, so unwoke marketing professionals might see them as completely dissimilar animals. These folks need to look more closely at exactly what they are selling.
IKEA doesn’t sell hard-to-pronounce furniture. It provides personalized environments for all kinds of families. Apple isn’t offering gadgets. It’s empowering individuals to explore and to create and to connect and to express themselves. And VISA’s product is not a plastic card, or even buying power. It’s peace of mind and fiduciary confidence.
Tangible product and service brands alike must ultimately deliver satisfying interactions, delightful results, happy endings and shining futures. The goal is to create a Moment. (You may recall the Shopper Moment, our articulation of the next evolution of the in-store retail experience – consumer-driven, authentic and meaningful.)
Service brands can – and should – deliver Shopper Moments. Here’s how:
Deal in relationships.
A vital element of every service operation is the relationship between the provider and the shopper. (Let’s call them shoppers rather than clients so as to underscore the brand’s need to constantly woo them.) Relationship building can be more challenging for product manufacturers because the stakes aren’t as high. Use this fact as a positive in your marketing efforts and present the advantages of the relationship as part of the package. Guidance and feedback from an expert are extremely valuable products. Make sure that your shoppers understand how a relationship with your brand can make their lives better.
Show and sell.
Service providers should use marketing tactics that emphasize the tangible aspects of the service. The idea is to activate Moments that appeal to your shopper’s senses and sensibilities.
In the financial services space, the product may be wealth and prestige. Demonstrate this in-store with signage featuring images of successful people doing bucket list-level things, and with fonts that are precise and handsome. Consider kiosks that offer personalized goal setting or an app that streamlines processes. Host events featuring inspiring business leaders. Serve really, really good coffee. And let the shopper keep the mug. (Never underestimate the power of SWAG.)
Spotlight the destination, not the journey.
You want clients to be able to clearly perceive the expected end result that you are offering, even if getting there involves multiple steps. That’s why video editors, for instance, market themselves primarily with examples of previous works, and not by highlighting the gear and software that they have in the editing suite.
Shoppers will be excited about your service if they can clearly imagine how it will benefit them. Use tactics that get their imaginations going. Find creative ways to show them what their success will look like.
Make the client a co-pilot.
As the one who uses the physical product, the shopper enjoys a certain sense of control. She bought it, she brought it home, she takes it off the shelf when she needs it, and if it fails to deliver, she tosses it out.
In the services space, the provider usually has the control. It is the brand that influences timing, grants access and sets measurement criteria. This can cause a feeling of disconnect between shopper and brand.
To avoid this sense of estrangement, make shoppers feel more involved and empowered by emphasizing their importance to the process and by demoting your own position to that of a mediator. Build in choices for the shopper so that she is charting her own course.