Think HBR

Marketing the invisible

Cristen Cable
KIS Marketing

You can’t touch it, you can’t hear it, you can’t see it but you need to find a way to market it. This is the challenge faced by so many business owners in today’s market where the consumers want more for less and they want it now.
In 2012, over 69.4% of Australia’s GDP was from the services sector, what used to be a product-driven economy is now replete with services.
Services are mainly a promise that someone will do something or share some wisdom. So the challenge - how do we sell, develop and make them grow? How do we market the invisible?

Step One – Remember the characteristics of your service.

Your service is inseparable from the people giving the service. You and your staff cannot be separated from the service itself. If your accountant has poor communication skills, chances are you will feel the service as a whole is poor. So make sure you have the best people.
Services are perishable so it is really critical to do it right the first time. An event planner can’t organise a new wedding because the first one wasn’t planned well. Keep up to date with industry knowledge and get it right the first time. A service is variable, a little different each time you offer it. This can’t be helped. Have some service blueprints in place to ensure the service is consistent and great quality is offered every time regardless of who on your team is serving the customer. This means fix your processes. Remember the intangibility of your service and try to create value for your clients by giving them something tangible to remember you by. A gift, a business card, a service list. Consumers will often make decisions on observations; even staff uniform, physical appearance and furnishings can bring confidence to a consumer. Ensure the physical evidence fits with your brand.

Step Two – Remember your customer is a co-producer of the service.

The service you offer could not exist without their active and willing participation. Value your consumer and keep in mind the benefits they are seeking.

Step Three – Promote a simple value proposition in acreative way. 

Sometimes real endorsements from real people and vivid imagery can help when promoting the invisible. Customers need to see a picture in their mind. Be creative and if you are not that way inclined hire a creative agency to think up the vivid imagery for you. Have a clear value proposition different from your competitors and avoid ad-hoc advertising. Get an integrated marketing communications plan built by a marketing expert that will guide your promotion and your spend. Lastly, keep it simple.

For further information you can either call (02) 4934 4556, email or visit

Cristen Kis Marketing Cristen Cable

Cristen Cable is passionate about the power of marketing she has a Masters Degree in Marketing, Management Diploma in Marketing, Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and international media qualifications through City & Guilds, London. Cristen is a member of the Maitland Business Chamber executive team and a recognised Certified Practising Marketer with the Australian Marketing Institute.