Product advertising is relatively easy – because you have an object that you can touch, measure and compare. (Here’s a great example: Apple iPOD: 3000 tunes in your pocket for £200. How neat is that? Everything you need to know; all in one headline.)

But, when you’re selling a service instead of a product, what you’re selling is often a process – something that’s far less tangible.
Many service companies fall into the trap of focusing their communications around their process, not the resulting outcome.

This is because it’s often delivering the service which they find interesting, so they expect that others will too.

But – the buyer is far more interested in the outcome than the process. As an example: a business which is buying a training course is far more interested in knowing what happens to the business after the course, not what happens to the delegate during the course – whereas the trainer providing the course is more interested in the course itself.

As a copywriter, I’m enormously interested in the mechanics of grammar and the constructs of English – but rarely do I find this same interest in my clients. And, although my clients welcome the fact that I’m a Fellow of the Institute of Copywriting, they really don’t give two hoots about how I write copy. What’s important to them is that I deliver copy which is engaging, persuasive and communicates clearly.

They want results.

The lesson here is to focus your core proposition on business outcomes. Sure, there will be part of the process that people will also want to know about, perhaps for quality assurance – but what they are investing their hopes and money in is the outcome of your service. And that’s the message that will turn them on.

Finally, another reason that services are harder to sell than products is that results can be hard to quantify in advance. To get around this, use examples of previous work, including customer references and case studies – these speak volumes.


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