By Sarah Nicastro, Creator, Future of Field Service
I believe the vast majority of our audience – that’s you! – understand that services are a strong path to differentiation and growth for their businesses. I’d even go so far as to say that many have refined or created services that create value for their customers – examples like moving from reactive to predictive models or introducing net new services that help enable customer outcomes. Where I think many still struggle, however, is in articulating their value proposition in a way that resonates and marketing their services in a manner that drives success.
Lucky for you all, we have an excellent podcast episode coming this week with Jennifer Deutsch, Chief Marketing Officer at Park Place Technologies. Park Place is the world's largest third-party maintenance provider for data centers who, through 16 acquisitions, has expanded beyond TPM into the software business with an entire portfolio of products that includes network analytics, hardware monitoring, and more. Prior to her role at Park Place, Jennifer has marketing experience with brands like Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance Hotels and Resorts, Bvlgari Hotels & Resorts, Nestle, and many more.
In this week’s podcast, Jennifer gives some excellent examples and illustrations around what impactful service marketing looks like. I won’t give it all away – you’ll have to tune in – but I do want to recap some of the major points. So, here are Jennifer’s top four “musts” when it comes to seeing success with your service marketing.
Must #1: Innovate with an Eye Toward Operational Realities
Jennifer is clear that innovation is a key ingredient of marketing. “We lead through innovation. As an organization and also a marketing department, we are fearless in our innovation,” she says. “It’s through this innovation that we've been able to change the dynamics of our brand, our products, but also the category. We recently introduced we introduced our First-Time Fix Guarantee. We are really putting our money where our mouth is that the first time, we are going to fix it. If we don't fix it, there’s a penalty for us – we’re going to service that piece of equipment for a month. That was such an innovation for the category.”
The caution here, though, is that as you’re innovating your marketing you must be sure that innovation is grounded in operational realities. Making the claim is bold, and it gets attention, but you have to be able to back it up with results. “Claim generation is an art. It took three years for us to be able to offer the First-Time Fix Guarantee and know we could deliver,” explains Jennifer. “When I was at Renaissance Hotels, we made an offer to guests that we could deliver fresh hot coffee with their wake-up call. You walk outside your door and there is a fresh pot of coffee, just the way you want it, which is pretty amazing. That's marketing and operations connected at the hip. You make the claim, you'll have coffee, at the very same time that you have your wakeup call, and it's going to be hot, and it's going to be perfect. We had to make sure that we could deliver. We had to make sure at Park Place that we could deliver the First-Time Fix Guarantee, that we're fixing it first the very first time.”
Must #2: Remember that Simplicity is King
It is easier to be verbose that it is to streamline, but when it comes to impactful marketing you must work to simplify. “As Aristotle said, ‘The real genius is simplicity,’ says Jennifer. “You must clearly communicate features and benefits simply. When you look at our tagline, ‘All about uptime,’ it's a very simple tagline. It uses one of the most impactful important words in our category: uptime. It's important that it's easy to understand, the messaging is simple, and that immediately, customers understand what it is that you're launching.”
The goal here is to create a simple hook that gets your audience to want to learn more, then you can deliver the details. “Simplification is so important because people have shorter attention spans than ever. Space is limited the way that we're consuming messaging, whether it's a social media post, et cetera. You need to work hard to find a few words that really communicate your message,” explains Jennifer. “If you don't have an arresting headline, you're not getting the reader to read the rest. I think that briefer is better.”
You’ll have the details when you need to provide them to someone that is interested in what you have to offer – but what you lead with needs to be simple. It also needs to be in the terminology of what your customers care more about. Note the difference between Park Place’s “All about uptime” versus “IoT-enabled predictive maintenance” – Park Place’s tagline is impactful because it speaks to how the company helps alleviate customer pain points.
Must #3: Get a Fresh Perspective
Innovation always benefits from diversity of thought and getting input on marketing messages is a valuable way to refine and polish your ideas. “I am an insights-driven, customer-driven marketer, because I am a focus group of one. My opinion is one individual. I must talk to customers and have a very, very deep understanding of what they face, what their environment is like, and what they need. That's the greatest inspiration for me, personally, as a marketer,” says Jennifer.
Park Place regularly obtains insights from its customers for marketing and many other purposes through its Customer Advisory Board. “Our customer advisory board is made up of 36 customers who have varying titles from CIO to data center manager and everything in between. It's great because we get a diversity of thoughts and opinions,” explains Jennifer. “Our entire senior leadership team participates, because we all need to be hearing the same thing from our customers to work on our end on how to improve the customer experience, how to evolve our roadmap, and then how to develop our messaging.”
I was also struck during my conversation with Jennifer by how valuable her own fresh perspective is to Park Place. She has had experience marketing for a variety of industries and brands, and I think her outside-in views have helped the company to excel in developing its simple, customer-centric messaging that is proving highly impactful. This is something to consider in terms of consulting with experts outside of your industry when developing your messaging, whether that’s a full-time hire or leveraging some agency expertise to get that fresh perspective.
Must #4: When in Doubt, Test it Out
Our final “must” is to know how simple and affordable it is to test messaging in today’s digital world to ensure you are landing on something that will achieve the results you desire. “Long ago, you would AB test in controlled environments, and it was expensive,” explains Jennifer. “Today, with digital, it's very easy to AB test. You just simply run two campaigns and see which one tests better and then change your variables in real-time; you can analyze your data very easy with digital. AB testing today is easier and more cost effective than it's ever been because of the digital environment.”
These four points are just the beginning of the excellent insights Jennifer provides during this podcast episode. Be sure to check out the full-length interview to learn more.