Promoting B2B products and promoting B2B professional services and consulting used to be two different things.

The first was all about features and innovation, the second a way to deliver efficiency or expertise to business processes. Marketers could specialize and spend an entire career in one niche or the other.

 Technology today blurs those lines:

  • Software is now a service, residing in the cloud rather than the desktop.
  • Distribution and logistics firms are rethinking their offerings as music, video, games and books no longer require physical inventory or shipping.
  • A push to automate paper-based processes is driving everything from the accounts receivable workflow to our medical records into a virtual world.

In essence, products and services are now paired up like salt and pepper. Every B2B marketer needs a working knowledge of best practices for marketing services and consulting.

So what’s required for success with a service offering?

The key challenge in marketing a service is clearly defining its boundaries for your audience. Too often, B2B marketers describe their service offerings in vague and ambigous terms that only confuse potential customers: 

  • “Expert assistance to help you grow your business.”
  • “Skilled technicians to improve your systems efficiency and performance.”
  • “Experienced consultants who understand the complex issues affecting your company.”

Messaging for B2B services needs to be narrow, focused and relevant. It needs names, features and benefits, and value propositions—just like a physical product. And, because it’s delivered by people, staff need to be perceived as experts and trusted advisors. Relationships and behavior become critical.

Coming up:  Eight proven best practices to market B2B professional services and consulting.