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:
The method of approach recommended for attaining these internal goals and objectives essentially consists of the following:
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:
The method of approach recommended for attaining these external goals and objectives would be multiphased and would include the following:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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