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7 Ps of Services Marketing – Framework Limitations

The 7 Ps of services marketing is indeed a popular framework used by marketing professionals to design the critical dimensions of the strategic blueprint while marketing a service. The services marketing mix is dominated by the 7 Ps of marketing namely Product, Price,  Place, Promotion, People, Process and Physical evidence. In fact, the 7 P framework is one of the most popular framework for deciding a marketing strategy for services in domains like banking, information technology enabled services or hospitality and tourism, right from strategy formulation to actual implementation.

However, one needs to be aware of the limitations of this framework while applying it in a business context. So in this article, we will discuss some of the major limitations of this services marketing framework.

One of the major drawbacks of the 7 P framework is that it does not address issues related to productivity in terms of both quantity and quality of service delivery. In integral services management, improving productivity during service is a requisite in overall cost management; but quality, as defined by the customer, is essential for a service to differentiate itself from other providers. These two deliverables are essentially opposite to each other in terms of goals. A firm would want to pursue a strategy involving cost minimization but still quality maximization. Hence a strategy that manages trade-off between such conflicting goals is needed to be optimized.

Similarly, another major important issue is managing the core competencies embedded within a firm. Services are essentially intangible in nature, by its very definition. Processes like service delivery address only a small part of the larger cake. Drawing from the resource based view, the organizational competencies are not matched through this framework, which is one of the building pillars of developing strategic frameworks which are external in nature. The viewing of internal resources in silos is somewhat a barrier for this framework, if used to develop an actionable strategy.

Another limitation of this framework is that it does not provide a mapping between the pricing strategies that needs to be followed, vis-a-vis the productivized version of the service. That mapping is often one of the most important drivers that can create or break the adoption of a service. A mapping of pricing to the critical dimensions (features) of the productivized service draws its theories from the pricing of services, which are often done in silos, since dimensions cannot be identified which are in unision but not over-lapping to the main delivery. Over-lapping dimensions create a perception of fluctuating utility among the consumers, and since these are intangible, the overall valuation of the importance and value of a service, gets impacted in a major way.

Understanding the limitations of any theoretical framework before applying it to practical scenarios is crucial for the success of the strategic plan. Please let us know, what you feel about this article. By the way, did you read about the 8 Ps of marketing, the new age marketing mix?

The 7 Ps of services marketing

Services are very different from products. So the marketing concepts need to be revisited while marketing a service. Services can range from financial services provided by the banks, technology services provided by the IT company, food and ambiance as a service provided by restaurants or even a blog where an author provides a service (information presentation, interesting reading etc) to his audience. Services marketing are dominated by the 7 Ps of marketing namely Product, Price,  Place, Promotion, People, Process and Physical evidence. The 7 P framework is one of the most popular framework for deciding a marketing strategy, right from strategy formulation to actual implementation.

The following form the marketing mix for services marketing, the first 4 P’s being the core and the next 3 P’s being the extended marketing mix.

  • Product is your core offering.This is “the thing” that will fulfill the needs of your customer. If your product is faulty, every thing else fails. The attributes of the product, vis-a-vis the attributes offered by competing products and substitutes, are important in estimating the competitive scenario for the marketing strategy formulation.
  • Price has a lot of impact on the service buyer’s satisfaction level. Often, paying a higher price makes a customer more satisfied. Price is often considered a proxy for quality and vice-versa. What is important to note that services being all the more intangible, the price becomes an important factor for the actual service consumption to happen, after service awareness and service acknowledgement.
  • Place often offers a different side of value (utility) to the customer. Who would want to travel 10 miles to have a regular dinner, even if that is priced very competitively and has a super quality? Services are often chosen for their place utility. Closer to the customer means higher probability of purchase. Place utility is important to evaluate, for strategizing on the other 6 Ps.
  • Promotion plays a role in the perception the possible target audience may have about your service. There has to be a fit between the promotion and the positioning. Promotion leads to service (brand) recognition and further establishes a proxy to evaluate quality of services based by potential customers. Many different promotional tools are often used like internet advertisement, special events, endorsements which happen out of the store or in-store merchandising like plastic dump bins and digital signage.
  • People are crucial in service delivery. The best food may not seem equally palatable if the waitress is in a sour mood. A smile always helps. Intensive training for your human resources on how to handle customers and how to deal with contingencies, is crucial for your success.
  • Processes are important to deliver a quality service. Services being intangible, processes become all the more crucial to ensure standards are met with. Process mapping ensures that your service is perceived as being dependable by your target segment.
  • Physical evidence affects the customer’s satisfaction. Often, services being intangible, customers depend on other cues to judge the offering. This is where physical evidence plays a part. Would you like eating at a joint where the table is greasy or the waitresses and cooks look untidy and wear a stained apron? Surely you would evaluate the quality of your experience through proxies such as these.

Services marketing is that elusive concept which stays incomplete without a thorough understanding of 7 Ps. These form the critical success factors for any service as evaluated by a possible customer.

Another P which has grown in significance in Services Marketing is the 8th P, namely Productivity and Quality, more details of which can be found in our article “The 8 Ps of Services Marketing

Do let us know if you liked our article or if you have any questions.

Have you read our article on the 4 P’s on Social Marketing?

Also did you read our article on the The 4 P’s of Marketing – The Marketing Mix strategies?

These articles are highly popular posts in our educative blog.