The illustration identifies the topics of the key marketing questions that need to be addressed for the three groups most involved in the development and success of any service offering. The first circle in the diagram, Us, represents the organization responsible for developing, implementing, and managing the service offering. Three key questions that the organization must continually pose and answer for itself are:
• Is the service effective in meeting organizational objectives (for example, in the composition and number of people served, in addressing unmet needs in the community, and in achieving equitable behavior change outcomes)?
• Is the service efficient in its use of resources (for example, in terms of transparent and accountable allocation of public funds, best use of staff time, and costs per outcome—however defined—that are less than the costs of other viable alternatives)?
• Is the service distinctive (for example, does it serve a unique priority group, does it offer unique services or value, and do potential users and stakeholders view it favorably in relation to similar programs or competitors)?
The second circle represents clients. The three core questions that a service offering must answer from clients’ point of view are:
• Is the service provided useful for people in meeting their basic needs, solving a situational or chronic problem, making daily life a bit easier (and perhaps more fun), or helping them achieve goals for themselves or for people they care about?
• Can they use the service (for example, is it tailored to their culture and literacy level; is it accessible and convenient; and is it affordable, not just with respect to money but in terms of opportunity, psychological, social, and temporal costs as well)?
• Is the service program desirable or something they would want to engage with (for example, is it promoted to them in a way that makes it seem like a worthwhile experience, do people they know talk about it and recommend it to them, and is what it is offering valuable for them in their daily life)?
The third ring in the diagram represents our colleagues (including stakeholders), the people with whom our service interacts throughout the client journey of discovering our service, being referred to it, concomitantly receiving services from other agencies, or being referred by us to other agencies for follow-on services. Thus the perspectives of colleagues—especially those who are promoters of our service, referral sources, collaborators on service offerings, or agents for continuation of services—also need to be considered in designing our service offering. Colleagues and stakeholders have at least three key questions we need to address:
• Are the services reliable (for example, are qualified people delivering the services, are service offerings based on evidence and professional recommendations and guidelines, and do staff respond to my inquiries promptly and follow through on promises they make to me)?
• Are the services dependable (for example, when clients are referred are they seen within a reasonable period of time, are their needs and problems being addressed, and am I kept abreast of what the service organization is doing and any change in its scope or plans)?
• Is it helpful (for example, does it reduce or streamline my work-flow burden, is it offering value to my clients and organization, and can I count on it when I need help)?
In developed countries, I see the need for marketers and change agents to become more involved in service design and marketing. This requires increasing the value placed on marketing and also service providers’ perceived need for marketing beyond communication campaigns. It also requires marketers and change agents to become more knowledgeable and experienced with service delivery and not just message design... As the saying goes, if all we have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Likewise, if all we know how to do is design and test messages, then everything looks like a communication problem."
Adapted from: From: Lefebvre, R.C (in press). Social marketing and social change: Strategies and tools for improving health, well-being and the environment (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, expected 2013).