Strategies for Marketing Retail RD Services
By RDBA Executive Director Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Programs, offerings, classes, tours – there are many names for the tactics of retail dietitians, but all offerings boil down to being either a product or a service. A product is something tangible; you can taste it, smell it, or hold it in your hands. Common products in the retail space include food items, cooking utensils, and shopping bags, but recipes, shopper handouts, and in-store health and wellness magazines are also products. Services are much less tangible and don’t take a physical form; know-how and skill are transferred in a service. Examples of retail RD services include individual consults, community presentations, store tours, and cooking classes (of course, any foods sampled would be products).
Products tend to fill a customer's need or want, which can be leveraged to market the product. A service is more about selling a relationship and the value of the relationship between the buyer and seller of the service. The challenge in marketing services is that it’s more difficult to identify the value of services than of products. When a consumer buys a service, they are assuming a risk as they cannot know the quality of the service in advance.
In marketing services, it is important to give tangible proof of the quality of the service. Here are some suggested tactics for marketing retail RD services:
- Offer a money back guarantee if the shopper is dissatisfied with the service. In doing so, you minimize the risk to your customer in participating in the service.
- Offer rewards to repeat customers. This can be in the shape of a “buy ten get one free offer” on classes or individual consults. Or consider offering discounts if the shopper opts into five or ten services.
- Develop a customer referral program. Word of mouth marketing also minimizes the risk for shoppers to participate in services as a trusted friend, colleague or family member has had a good experience with one of your services.
- Find promotional partners. This is all about the “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” philosophy. Computers that come preloaded with anti-virus software or sporting events that give you a free beer at a local bar after the game are examples of promotional partnerships. Are there local health clubs or businesses that you can offer a free presentation to if they agree to promote your services through member or employee newsletters or communications?
- Use your connections. While the saying says “it’s all about who you know,” in reality it’s about who knows you. Leverage all your contacts (think college friends, neighbors, in-laws) to promote the services you offer and how great they are.
- Secure and promote testimonials. Nothing is more powerful than a testimonial by someone who has participated in one of your services.
- Earlier this year, we shared insights on content marketing. When promoting services with content marketing, ensure your content is easy to share.
In marketing services, it’s essential to keep in mind their intangible nature and the risk the customer assumes, and to manage these barriers to purchase.