Can you promote both products and services?

Yes! But then I would say that, wouldn't I. Declaring my personal interest, Transform Communications provides communications support to both manufacturers of products and providers of services. Their needs are distinct but before I get to that there are similarities and commonalities when defining a communications, marketing and PR campaign.

Both products and services have customers. Well, duh! Of course they do. That's what makes them profitable (hopefully) businesses. But more than that – both companies have something to sell. They both engage in a transaction.

And just because one sells a physical and tangible goods and the other sells something that you can't hold in your hand but still provides value - doesn't mean that they are poles apart.

Value is the key term here. Whatever you’re selling and I'm buying it has to meet a need that I have. Perhaps I need the lawn cut and I'm in the market for a lawn- mower. Perhaps I need help on managing a team in a new role. As a customer I have needs. And as a customer I will buy from a company that best meets those needs.

Ok – just a little interjection here about price. There will always be people who are after the best deal, the most affordable cost. These are indeed customers and for people who are selling on price alone then this is a really attractive market. What I find interesting is how quickly companies move behind a ‘cheapest’ message to a ‘best value’ message. Why? Because they recognise that there is more value in targeting to price savvy but aspirational markets. Four years ago I bumped in to a mother from my daughters school. Outside of Aldi. She blushed. She said she was just passing. She needed something quickly and it was convenient. Now, I regularly meet other parents in the Aldi aisles. We are proud to be ‘savvy’ shoppers.

And the bridge here is that it is the message you convey that makes a difference. Every customer is a person (yes, really) and we all want what you say to speak to us.

That's the content that you produce. Sure a PR programme for a sexy home accessories product can just be a pretty picture and a caption. Sure some people will want it. Some people might buy it. But do they love what you? Do they know that you're a company they should come back to?

And for services? Sure you can talk about the latest offer that you've produced. But unless you've packaged it just as carefully as any product about what your customers need, then you’ll just be caught in the time for money trap.

Communications for products and services aren't different disciplines. They require the same understanding of the market, the same careful crafting of messages and the same refinement of content. Then they’ll meet the needs of their market and create a lasting relationship that can deliver value time and time again. 

Veronica Hannon