Services

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Business analysts have been saying for some time that in the advanced economies of the world, such as those of Western Europe, the U.S. and Japan, the value of the services produced has come to outstrip the value of manufactured goods. This trend is apparent in the rapid growth of information as a product of modern business. Economies based largely on services rather than goods are considered to be on the cutting edge of postindustrial economic development.

Service as a product is ubiquitous and diverse, ranging from extremely specialized high-tech functions to unskilled, low-wage labor. Regardless of the type of service, however, marketers agree that the services category requires different advertising strategies from those used to sell durable and package goods. These different approaches are generally necessary because services and goods are described and understood differently.

For example, durable and package goods normally can be touched and evaluated through physical characteristics. Consumers in the market for a particular type of product can shop for the specific item they want and compare the characteristics of competing products. Services, on the other hand, are intangible and cannot be evaluated physically. This is a key problem that service businesses face and need to overcome in their advertising.

One of the most effective approaches in advertising service offerings is to "tangibilize" the product—that is, to make services appear to have physical or tangible characteristics. This technique can help the potential customer visualize the service. Allstate Insurance Co., for example, tries to tangibilize insurance services by using an image of supportive hands along with the slogan, "You're in good hands with Allstate." The hands provide a concrete, physical presence for Allstate, which otherwise would not have any visual representation of its service. In addition, the hands convey an image of a caring, warm, supportive company.

Prudential Insurance Co. of America and Travelers Insurance, two other well-known insurance companies, use as their trademark icons a rock and an umbrella, respectively, for similar reasons.

It is also possible to tangibilize the service by providing specific facts and details about it. This approach to advertising the service can help considerably because people like to know what they are getting when they purchase a service. Providing specific information about the service can help potential customers reduce risk. For example, because potential customers may be hesitant to visit a food establishment with an unknown menu, advertising the specific types of food available can be advantageous to a restaurant. Providing additional information such as prices can further help to reduce the possible risk perceived by the diner.

AAMCO transmissions has attempted yet another approach to tangibilizing the service in its advertisements. The familiar horn honk in its slogan ("Double A [honk, honk] M-C-O") is a sound that makes the automotive service tangible to the audience. Advertisers call such a tool a "mnemonic device" designed to penetrate a buyer's consciousness.

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