The factors that influence the marketing of professional services : a case study
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Indications from the initial phase of this study suggest that key marketing fundamentals apparent in this business sector differ significantly from those generally recognisable in commodity, consumer product and industrial marketing. It is postulated that whilst these differences are probably symptomatic of particular professional service practice norms and business ethics the formulation, implementation and evaluation of effective marketing can be facilitated utilising appropriate contemporary marketing paradigms. This study explores the current marketing milieu in a multinational professional services organisation and attempts to identify factors relevant to marketing within the organisation. The objective of this study was to identify the critical factors that influence the successful marketing of professional services and to develop a framework to support these findings. In order to accomplish this objective, the study was undertaken from a phenomenological, rather than a positivist paradigm. An exploratory quantitative Likert-scale survey combined with the allowance for qualitative open-ended comments/ feedback was adopted. The quantitative study incorporated employees in managerial, middle and junior roles from the Specific Professional Services Organisation ‘SPSO’s’ national offices based in Durban, Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Cape Town. Marketing representatives from the ‘SPSO’s’ international offices were also included in the survey. It can be summarised that the main factors influencing the marketing of professional services can be grouped according to Strategy, Product/ Service, Price, Place, Promotion, Physical Evidence, People, Process, and Other. A framework was devised, comprising the nine identified groups of factors including correlating recommendations, as well as a tabular outlay of additional constructive qualitative comments recorded from respondents with recommendations.