Marketing A New Service Offering Requires Both Internal and External Promotion

(Originally published in the March 1996 issue of AFSMI's Sbusiness.)

By William K. Pollock

In introducing or launching a new service offering, management must be prepared to take full advantage of all of the organization's internal resources as well as the external "windows of opportunity" that may be available to support its overall marketing and promotional effort. However, while most organizations tend to focus heavily on promoting the new service to the external marketplace, they pay much less attention, if any, to promoting it internally. This is often a critical oversight, and one that may later result in the organization's inability to successfully "roll out" the new service to the marketplace.

What too many services organizations have learned the hard way is that a complete internal understanding of any new service offering, and how it will interact with the existing services portfolio, must first be accomplished before any external marketing program can be launched successfully. This will require the development and execution of both an external, as well as an internal, promotional effort.

The following presents a general outline and explanation of how to approach the critical dual roles of promoting new service offerings both internally to your own service, sales and marketing staffs, and externally to the general marketplace comprised of your existing and prospective customers.

1. Internal Education, Awareness and Understanding

Before any new service can be successfully marketed and promoted to the external (i.e., customer) marketplace, it must first be clearly communicated and articulated internally. A well orchestrated approach that provides a comprehensive, timely, practical and consistent understanding of the service, including how it fits into the organization's overall portfolio of services, is generally the most effective means for providing sales, marketing, services and customer support personnel with the information and ammunition they will need to effectively market and promote the service to existing and new customers. This effort generally requires the development of a formal communications, education, training, and documentation plan for supporting internal staff in advance of the actual rollout of the new service offering to the marketplace.

All internal education, training and instruction must be communicated so that all appropriate internal customer support personnel are provided with a thorough, complete and meaningful understanding not only of what the new service offering can provide to customers, but also how the customers will actually use the service to support their respective businesses on a day-to-day basis. This can only come from a strong internal understanding of the full range of customers' needs and requirements for the new offering, the applications in which they will use the offering to support their day-to-day business operations, and the levels at which the offering must be supported. This internal education, awareness and understanding is what will ultimately be required to provide your organization's personnel with all of the tools they will need to successfully promote the new service to their respective customers, prospects and other market "leads."

Goals and Objectives

The primary goals and objectives of an internal education, awareness and understanding program to support service, sales and marketing personnel should focus on the following areas:

  • Provide all key customer service and support, services, sales and marketing personnel with the knowledge, awareness and understanding of the new service offering, in terms of how the new offering will actually be used by customers (i.e., how, in what areas/applications, with what expected benefits, et cetera);
  • Ensure that all necessary informational and instructional materials and documentation are readily available, current, informative and actionable, in terms of supporting internal personnel in their ability to support their customers; and
  • Build into the system the capabilities to continually add new information and instruction, as required, for supporting their knowledge and understanding of the new offering, as well as its perceived value to customers.
Method of Approach

The method of approach recommended for attaining these internal goals and objectives essentially consists of the following:

  • Develop an internal education and instruction-based presentation and guidebook, designed to provide key internal sales, services, marketing and customer support personnel with a full understanding of both the new service offering as well as the specific needs, requirements, applications and expected value of the new service to the customers who will be using them. All materials should be comprehensive, clearly articulated, well documented, "user-friendly", flexible and actionable so that they can be regularly used to assist your sales and marketing force in supporting customers;
  • Establish a formal means for distributing and disseminating this information to appropriate personnel through a combination of visual presentations/seminars and/or workshops, or via hardcopies, floppy disks or other appropriate means. In some cases, especially for more complex new product and service offerings, the use of outside trainers or instructors might be advisable; and
  • Develop a means for monitoring, updating, expanding and otherwise improving the content and focus of the informational materials on a regular, or as needed, basis.
2. External Marketing and Promotion of the New Service Offering

However, there are more elements required for the successful introduction of a new service offering than merely the education, awareness and instruction of the organization's internal personnel. An orchestrated external marketing and promotional effort, based on an internal understanding of the market's needs, requirements and planned applications of the new service will ultimately have the greatest impact on the market's initial awareness and acceptance of the offering.

Goals and Objectives

The primary goals and objectives of an external (i.e., customer/market base) marketing and promotion program for a new service offering would include the following:

  • Proactively and interactively educate and inform both existing customers and potential market users of the major attributes, applications, value and benefits that would be associated with the use of the new service offering;
  • Develop effective marketing and promotional collateral for both general and targeted (i.e., for individual customer/market segments) distribution, designed to promote the new service offering to each targeted market segment through the use of segment-specific examples, applications, case studies and benefits as defined above; and
  • Execute an effective and targeted marketing and promotional campaign based on the concepts outlined above.
Method of Approach

The method of approach recommended for attaining these external goals and objectives would be multiphased and would include the following:

  • Conduct a customer needs assessment/survey focusing on the current and emerging perceived needs of customers for the specific attributes, applications and benefits that would result from the use of the new service offering, and utilize these data for the further refinement, packaging and market positioning of the final offering;
  • Prepare a formal customer/market presentation that focuses on the key perceived market factors and benefits identified above that could also be "taken on the road" for the purposes of prospect sales calls, trade show presentations, business seminars, et cetera. A core presentation could be prepared based on a universal theme, with customized versions developed to focus on segment-specific examples, applications and benefits, et cetera;
  • Develop a full set of universal and segment-specific promotional collateral directed to a prioritized list of customer/market segments focusing on the unique applications and benefits of the new service within each segment;
  • Identify the most appropriate and effective trade shows, trade magazines and other venues for promoting the new offering to the general marketplace and establish a prioritized schedule for exhibiting and/or attending them; and
  • Generate and present targeted promotional collateral, speeches, articles, presentations, "white papers", case studies, seminars, workshops, et cetera for the joint purposes of educating the market and promoting your organization's new service offering by offering your customers and the general marketplace the opportunity to learn first-hand about the full range of products, services and customer support that are available through your organization.
3. Which Comes First? The Internal or the External Promotional Effort?

The answer to the question of "Which comes first? The internal or the external marketing and promotional effort?" is clearly, internal. In the past, nearly every organization has "rushed" a new service to market before it was ready, with its internal sales and service force inadequately prepared to support it, and without sufficient external promotion to stimulate an initial market demand. Each of these mistakes, in isolation, can lead to significant problems in successfully rolling out a new service. In combination, they can be deadly.

However, by educating your internal sales and marketing force first, you can be assured that once the new service is ready to be rolled out, you will have your first line customer sales and support staff "armed for bear" and ready to answer any of the market's questions, or address any of its concerns, with respect to the new service. This first line support becomes invaluable in supporting the new service rollout, particularly if there are any other problems or obstacles experienced along the way.

In summary, the best way to approach the overall marketing and promotional effort associated with the rollout of a new service offering is to focus both on the key elements of the internal and external education, awareness and understanding programs that have been presented above. An uninformed market will have little perceived need for a new service offering that it does not understand. However, an uninformed sales and support staff will not be able to effectively market the new service to a marketplace that has questions that it cannot answer. The internal and external programs go hand-in-hand and, in combination, represent the most effective means for your organization to successfully promote its new service offering to the marketplace.



William K. Pollock is president of Strategies For GrowthSM (SFGSM), the Westtown, Pennsylvania-based services consulting firm specializing in strategic business planning, services marketing, CRM consulting, market/survey research, and customer satisfaction measurement and tracking programs. Bill may be reached at 610-399-9717 or via e-mail at wkp@s4growth.com.


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