Healthcare Services Marketing: How the Four P’s Become Seven P’s

We’ve all heard of the “Four P’s” of product marketing: price, product, promotion, and place. In the traditional marketing of tangible or intangible products, these four key considerations act as pillars for a successful marketing plan. However, in today’s increasingly consumer-driven business landscape, marketers are breaking tradition and finding new, more original ways to reach customers.

Case in point: what about businesses that thrive on providing services, not products? It’s critical for a successful services marketing plan to consider additional elements like the customers, the nature and processes behind how the services are provided, and ongoing relationships with customers. That’s why in services marketing – also called service marketing – we’ll need to add a few more P’s to cover all the bases.

Seven P’s of Service Marketing

Service marketing is an emerging trend that’s grown from the increasing shift from B2B to B2C. This can especially be seen in the healthcare industry, as providers and other healthcare players are having more direct conversations with their customers. In turn, customers are having an increasing stake in their care. The Seven P’s include the original four, plus three additional considerations: price, product, promotion, place, physical evidence, people, and process.

Let’s take a (very) brief look at the basics of these three additional P’s:

1. Physical evidence:

“Proof” that the service was performed. For a delivery service, this can be delivery packaging. For a surgeon, this can be a scar after the operation. Positive or negative, the physical evidence reassures customers that the service took place.

2. People:

The individuals who execute and provide the service to customers. This mainly refers to the skill and manner in which the services are executed in the context of customer service.

3. Process:

The organization’s internal systems and procedures that work together to affect the execution of the service being provided. This can include details like how customer queries are handled and how jobs are queued.

Services Marketing and Relationship Marketing

Services marketing has ties in relationship marketing. Relationship marketing is a tactic that’s designed to give special focus to the customer through tools and techniques for retention and satisfaction, as opposed to the more transactional nature of traditional marketing. Relationship marketing puts the customer on a pedestal, so to speak, operating on the long-term value of maintaining strong ongoing relationships. These relationships are maintained outside of conventional marketing channels, extending to communication channels like social media, application development, inbound marketing, and public relations.

Services Marketing in Healthcare

Services marketing is an especially important consideration for the healthcare industry, as healthcare is innately a very personal and intimate aspect of a customer’s life. In today’s competitive landscape, it’s critical for a healthcare brand to be perceived as trustworthy, skilled, and helpful. By focusing on the Seven P’s and incorporating elements of relationship marketing theory, healthcare service providers can help to build a customer-centric brand that helps them break through the healthcare haze.