Services Marketing

Services marketing has incurred an explosive amount of scholarly research in the last 20 years, however since 1986 there has been no debate concerning the notion that services are distinct from products, and thus deserve a special approach, a set of concepts and a body of knowledge (Brown, Fisk, & Bitner, 1994). This essay will explain the distinguishing features of services marketing, giving examples where possible. It will begin by defining services marketing and giving some background knowledge on its divergence from product marketing. It will then examine the four characteristics of services, and then finish with an explanation of the extra P’s found in the services marketing mix.

In the last century there has been a large shift in marketing thought; evolving from a goods-dominated view, in which tangible output and discrete transactions were the focus, to a service-dominant view, in which intangibility, exchange processes, and relationships are central (Vargo & Lusch, 2004). Vargo and Lusch define services as the application of specialized competences (knowledge and skills) through deeds, processes, and performances for the benefit of another entity or the entity itself. Four idiosyncratic features of services will now be given, highlighting why services marketing is different from basic product marketing.

Arguably the most distinguishing feature about services is their intangibility. Services are defined in (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2006) as “deeds, processes, and performances”. None of these are physical objects in which a customer can take ownership of, even though during a service physical evidence will be apparent in the form of things like medicine the doctors prescribes to you, the photo taken of you riding the rollercoaster, or the food on your plate in a restaurant. This invisibility creates a number of issues for marketers. Firstly there is no stock, making it hard to manage supply and demand. Secondly services cannot be shown or displayed to customers, making it hard for marketers to advertise the quality of the service. And finally, because services don’t physically exist, there is difficulty in patenting them, making it easy for other firms to copy your service.

Another notable aspect about products is that on average they stay the same. If you buy a Ford Focus here in Australia, and then go and buy the same model in America, chances are they will both be exactly the same. Services are different in that they are heterogeneous, meaning they differ with each use. For example a wildlife tour will never be the same twice, not only because of the random and unpredictable nature of the animals, but the guide may be in a different mood, the weather will have changed, and there will be different customers each time. These factors make it harder to consistently give quality service, which is important to marketers because customers will have a particular set of expectations in mind, based primarily on what was promoted in the service and previous experiences in the particular industry.

Another distinguishable feature about services is the fact that it’s both produced and consumed at the same time, as opposed to products where customers do not see how the product is manufactured. A good metaphor for this is being at the theatre. Consumers can be compared to an audience, where they watch actors (employees) perform on stage (physical location like a business store) amongst props (physical objects like chairs, tables, pot plants etc). The actors are ‘live’ and performing (producing) at the same time as the audience are watching (consuming). This brings us to the concept of interactive marketing. In a service, operational staff carries out much of the marketing function (Klassen, Russel, & Chrisman, 1998), and marketers are left to the advertising and promotion.

The final distinction that differentiates services from products is their perishability. While some products perish very quickly (like water balloons), services simply cannot be stored, saved, resold or returned at all. Marketers main concern would be the procedure for when things do not go as planned. Customers cannot simply return the service and ask for another one; it is up to the service provider to offer the customer some kind of compensation. If passengers are forced to wait a long time for their flight, employees could provide free coffee and refreshments while they wait, in an attempt to make up for their failing service.

With product marketing the marketing mix includes the four P’s; product, price, place and promotion. Services use the same elements plus three more to help account for their unique nature.

Firstly there is people, which comprise of everyone that influences the buyer’s perceptions, including the buyer themselves. Customers have an active role in the production, and thus can influence the outcome of their own service or the service of others. For example a large family with screaming children interrupting a young couples romantic dinner at a restaurant.

Every person is important to the marketer, no matter how small their role may be. Consider an IT professional who installs computers in people’s homes. During that installation the buyer may form an opinion of the service provider as a whole based purely on that IT professionals performance. Sometimes a person is the sole service provider, for example a dentist or lawyer, making their performance and appearance critical to gaining a high perceived quality of service.

The sixth ‘P’ is physical evidence, which is the environment in which the service is delivered and where the firm and customer interact (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2006). It also includes any physical objects that assist in the delivery of the service. (Lehtinen & Lehtinen, 1991) define it as the environment and its instruments. With some services customers may find it hard to judge the quality of the service, especially with credence service’s like financial advisors or legal advice. It is crucial that marketing managers address consumer fears regarding risk that results before, during, and after consumption of credence services (Keh & Sun, 2008). Since the customer does not have the knowledge or experience to judge the actual service, they instead turn their attention to other things, including the physical evidence of service quality. This would usually come in the form of a professional looking workspace, however would change with each service provider. For example in a doctors surgery cleanliness would be expected.

Finally there is the service process, including the procedures, mechanisms and flow of activities by which the service is delivered (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2006). When purchasing a service, customers often have a set of expectations of the process of the service, and when these are not met, the perceived quality of service drops. For example in white water rafting a customer might be dissatisfied if, when they arrived, they were told they had to carry the raft to the top of the river first. The process is important because people participate in it, unlike products, where the process is behind doors.

Services represent at least 70% of the nation’s total GDP for at least 5 countries, including the United Kingdom and Australia, making it a hot topic for not only marketers, but anyone competing in the business world. Services are distinguished from products by four characteristics; intangibility, they are heterogeneous, there is simultaneous production and consumption, and their perishability. Services marketing differs from product marketing from the fact that three extra P’s are added to the original marketing mix; people, physical evidence and process.

Health Benefits Of Truffles

Although truffles are very costly, there are now many more reasons to eat it apart from the truth that it is very exciting to eat a delicacy. One of these reasons is you are consuming truffles because these may bring you health benefits.

Through the years, contentions have been hounding the health benefits and nutritional value of truffles and mushrooms, generally. People say that edible mushrooms like truffles have no nutritional value at all and these are used just to add flavor to a selection of staple dishes.

Yet, more recent reports show that truffles and various sorts of mushrooms can bring a great deal of health benefits especially to vegetarians, individuals who don’t eat meat and only consume vegetables.

Technically, truffles are mushrooms that don’t have stems and are usually discovered under the ground-usually under oak, pine, beech, and pecan trees mostly in Europe including various parts of Italy, France, Slovenia and Croatia. In Asia, some varieties are located in China along with in Middle East while there are also some types native to North Africa.

So far, truffles are used only in the culinary field-as main ingredient to various dishes or as flavoring and garnishes to different specialties. The most frequent gourmet edible truffles that are being employed in various restaurants include the French Black Truffles, the Italian White Truffles, the Chinese Truffles, and the Summer Truffles.

If you are fond of eating truffles and mushrooms generally, here are the some of the health benefits that you are able to expect:

1. It is a good source of high protein. Truffles have high protein content ranging from 20 to 30 percent for each serving. Experts say that truffles are excellent sources of high protein content which it very ideal because these contain all the amino acids necessary to good nutrition for humans. For people who don’t consume fats and carbohydrates- specially to people who are having Western diets-truffles are very ideal since it is a fantastic source of protein.

2. It is in addition a moderate source of carbs. The main element of truffles and mushrooms in the main is carbohydrates derived from glycogen and chitin or also called the fungus cellulose which is a functional proponents of the fungal cell wall. All the same, compared to other vegetables, truffles have lower proportions of carbohydrates. This is in addition very good for people suffering from diabetes because truffles have low value of energy.

3. It is low-fat. As it is vegetable, truffles are ideal for individuals who cannot and do not want to consume too much fat. When dried, it has only about two to eight percent of fat which are mostly crude fat and lipid compounds such as fatty acids, sterols, phospholipids, glycerides and linoleic acid.

4. It is cholesterol free. This is probably the largest benefit to health of truffles. Through the years, cholesterol has been thought to be of the risk aspects of coronary heart conditions and other associated diseases. If you are inclined to stroke or heart attack or you have a family history any heart complaint, it would be great to consume cholesterol free food such as truffles to help you decrease your total cholesterol levels.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Business Networking

Business networking has a world of positive benefits. However, with everything positive, comes a few negatives at least. So, without further ado, let’s begin with the positive/pros in support of business networking:

The first point on the up side is;

You’re being active in the accumulation of business contacts and letting yourself be seen. Many people complain that they are just not meeting enough of the right people to help in their career direction.

When you are actively involved in business networking, you are increasing your chances of meeting those right people. Furthermore, if you are networking correctly by sharing referrals, introducing people, and following up with those you meet, the rewards will speak for themselves.

The 2nd positive point is;

Your 1 on 1 people skills will slowly develop into expert status. This is a benefit not talked about a lot but through trial and error, building great relationships will seem effortless. Consider the fact that when your 1 on 1 people skills are adequate, you will see a phenomenal increase in the positive results you get using all other communication, for example; telephone, e-mail, etc.

3rd, on the optimistic side is;

After being consistent, you will notice your own center of influence expand. If you are engaged actively in meeting, communicating, and generally helping many individuals, you will be liked as well as respected. When these type of things occur, your center of influence grows and you will become well-respected by default.

4, on the high side is;

Networking regularly gives you the opportunity to speak a lot about your profession. You will have the opportunity to educate many people about what you do when you meet them. This situation causes you to be on your toes and more knowledgeable about your profession.

The 5th benefit of business networking is;

You are greatly increasing your overall options. While networking for better business returns, you will meet an abundance of individuals who aren’t directly connected to your goals. Meeting individuals like this can benefit you in other ways like; finding a good plumber, helping you to get hired at a new company, and any other specialist in a particular field. A personal referral usually holds more merit.

And now for the alternatives or the down-side/cons of business networking:

#1. If you are an extreme example of a socially inhibited individual, getting out and networking could be very traumatic for you. I’m not saying that it’s something you can’t overcome but it could very well turn out to be a not so positive experience.

#2. You may find several events that may not be to your liking. This is an occupational hazard of business networking in which you attend business networking events with high expectations but are disappointed by the outcome. As with anything, this is not justification to give up but it does happen.

#3. People in your newly found network been as receptive as you would like. It is very true that many people talk a good game but in the heat of the moment, when you need them most, they can let you down.

#4. An unruly, undesirable individual may enter your life through networking. I know that this is an aspect that’s not discussed too frequently but I must be honest. Sometimes you can attract individuals through your friendly networking activities, which could prove energy draining if not detrimental to your career.

And #5. Networking doesn’t work for everybody. Yes, there are some individuals out there, as rare as they may be, where networking and building relationships with different people just isn’t their cup of tea. A small minority of people will find that no matter how hard they try, it just won’t deliver the desired results. This is sad but it is true.

So now you see the pros and cons on both ends. Personally I believe that business networking is very important and can work for most people in a positive way. Now, you have to ask yourself, “Is it bad or good?” The answer is “Good” and “Bad”. It all depends on the perspective of “you”, the reader.

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Accent Furniture or Occasional Furniture – The Difference

What is the difference between accent furniture and occasional furniture? Many people are unsure of this, but does it really matter and what makes an item ‘occasional’ or ‘accent?’ the terms are not truly definable, but can be explained by offering examples or by describing the function of each – so both ways are used here so that you can understand the relative terms when you hear them used.

Accent or Occasional Furniture – Does It Matter?

Does terminology really matter? Generally no, but it can do if people use the term to you in conversation or even when you are looking for new furniture for your home. However, in general terms it does not matter at all whether your table is described as an accent table or an occasional table.

In some cases occasional and accent furniture can be the same – but to say that, the definition of these terms must first be agreed. The term ‘accent’ should be easy to understand – just like an accent in language, furniture of this type should emphasize a certain style, such as a statue of the jackal-headed god Anubis in an Egyptian-themed room – a home accent need not be furniture!

Examples of Occasional Furniture

Coffee tables and end tables are examples of occasional furniture. There are alternative definitions for this type of furniture, the two most common being furniture that is used ‘on an occasion,’ and furniture that is used only ‘occasionally.’

Each of these definitions is so broad, that they could practically be said to be fundamentally the same. The former definition would include coffee tables, used on the occasion of drinking coffee – or any other beverage or drink. It would also include all furniture used in a lounge used only when visitors arrive, or even in a spare guest room. Definitions are a poor way to describe furniture.

The second definition used ‘occasionally’ would refer to exactly the same furniture, but also include rockers, particularly the old-style hickory rockers that you might use occasionally when in the mood. You might occasionally use an ottoman to sit on if all the family arrived to visit. Quite frankly, definitions are needless when people know what occasional furniture is.

It is not a sofa or armchair, and is not a dining table or a bed. Fundamentally, occasional furniture comprises the minor pieces that support the principal items of furniture in a room. The tables mentioned above are two examples, as are other functional pieces such as the lift chair that is used only when an elderly relative visits or chest, nightstands and ottomans that are occasionally in use.

Examples of Accent Furniture

Often referred to as ‘accent pieces,’ accent furniture is used to add character to a room or to emphasize a theme – such as the Anubis statue mentioned earlier. A chess table used for decoration is accent furniture, as is a decorative small round table holding a vase of flowers or a reed diffuser. An accent piece is generally smaller in size than the main furniture in a room, and often has little practical use other than a decorative one.

A small table in an entrance hall is accent furniture, along with a chest in a hallway and a large free standing globe in a home office. It sets a theme or a mood, emphasizes a trend or even complements the purpose of a room such as an ornate oriental footstool in a living room.

These are definitions of accent furniture and occasional furniture in the eyes of many people, but if you asked any individual for their own definition they would either be unable to answer or would likely offer a different one.

You can use accent furniture to complement the decorative style of a room, and this type of home furniture is most commonly found in living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms and hallways. It is rare in a kitchen, since most kitchen furniture is functional, and even rarer in bathrooms although large bathrooms can be enhanced by accent furniture in the form of free standing toiletry racks or carousels for lotions and decoratively colored bath salts.

Much occasional furniture is completely functional and used regularly, such as ottomans used with recliners and coffee tables that are in daily use. The terms are given, not to define the pieces, but to establish a compartment that separates such smaller items from the larger forms of furniture common to specific types of room such as the jewelry cabinet from the dresser and the end table from the sofa.

How you define the respective terms of occasional furniture and accent furniture is your choice – there is no rule, and in this case definitions do not really matter.