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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Service marketing SUCCESS in 60 seconds.

Super Bowl Sunday was advertising’s biggest night (I won’t go so far as to say it was marketing’s biggest night) and while ads were memorable for a good reason, for a bad reason or worst – not memorable at all, product dominance continued in Super Bowl ads.

The US economy is 70% service-based, yet by my unofficial count, just over 40% were for services. (I included the Census ad, but excluded the NFL ads and all movie ads. An argument could be made that some or all are services, though the latter were advertising the product rather than the experience.)

If we buy more services than products, use more services than products and are more likely to work for a service company than a product company, why the disparity?

Despite our familiarity and use of services, we still have problems effectively describing them because of their intangibility. It’s easier to effectively position a product around a set of desirable attributes than convey the feeling a consumer should have after using a service. As such, Super Bowl ads are tilted toward product positioning, but they don’t have to be.

Using the SUCCESS formula from the Heath brothers, writers of Made to Stick, I had Google's "Search Stories" as the best ad of the night. The message was so Simple that the ad really could have been considered a Google brand ad rather than a plug for their core search engine service. If there is a criticism, it that little in the ad was Unexpected as it progressed in straightforward fashion. It certainly was Credible. Google played to their core strength as the owner of the market for search, a fact everyone vaguely familiar with the service need would acknowledge. It was the most Concrete ad of the night, consisting of a full product demonstration. While it didn’t have the obvious laughs that many others did, it touched on Emotion through the development of a loving relationship, told as a Story through the mechanism of iterative Google search terms.

Super Bowl ads for service companies, are rare. Good ones even more so. Sticking to the SUCCESS paradigm, with emphasis on ways services solve problems uniquely – using people and processes in an experiential environment – would make for far more meaningful, and successful, service company ads.

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