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"I avoid clients for whom advertising is only a marginal factor in their marketing mix. They have an awkward tendency to raid their advertising appropriations whenever they need cash for other purposes."
― David Ogilvy
Marketing is one of the most important phases of a business. Customer support is what a business mainly thrives on, which is why a businessman needs to market his products in the most efficient way possible so as to attract the public. Marketers follow the marketing mix tool for the same. This tool comprises 4 essential elements (now 7) that are considered when a product is marketed. Physical evidence is one of these entities. By definition, it is any tangible service that creates a better, aesthetically-pleasing environment that can entice the customer. The following paragraphs elaborate on physical evidence as a vital marketing tool.

Marketing Mix
  • As mentioned before, marketing mix is a tool that marketers use for their products and services.
  • It basically comprises the 4 Ps, i.e., Product, Price, Promotion, and Place.
  • The extended service marketing mix has an additional three elements, and the model is called the 7Ps. The three other elements are People, Process, and Physical evidence.
  • Off late though, another extra element has been added, called Productivity and quality. It focuses on improving productivity.
  • However, more commonly, the marketing mix is still referred to as the 7P model, and includes the entity, 'physical evidence'.
In this tool, product refers to the kind of product/service that the customer wants. It focuses on all the aspects of the product - whether it has any glitches, how does it satisfy the customer, its physical aspects, unique abilities, branding, etc.

Price is the monetary value of the product. The price should be set according to the required standard. Factors like price gain, customer choice, competitor price, discounts, etc., need to be considered.

Coming to the element of promotion, it defines the extent of marketing your product. You have to decide the best, efficient, and optimized way by which you can promote the item. You have to make sure it reaches the target audience. You also have to take care to see if the promotion takes place at the right time, whether the competitor is using a better strategy, how it can influence the sale of your product, etc.

Lastly, you have place. It indicates the place where the target audience will buy your product. You need to undertake sufficient research to find out the type of retail stores where your product will be on display, where your customers will prefer shopping, how you can reach out to the proper distribution channel, whether you need to send catalogs to people, etc.

The service marketing mix emphasizes on the addition of three other 'Ps'. They have been formulated keeping the 'service' factor in mind, i.e., they relate more to a service than a product.

People, in this case, indicates the staff and the related services provided to the customers. It includes the efficiency of the delivery staff, reception staff, and everyone else who is involved in the organization.

Process refers to how the service is being delivered. For example, if you order a pizza, process refers to what method the pizzeria used to deliver the pizza as quickly as possible.

And lastly, physical evidence refers to the physical atmosphere of service delivery. This concept has been explained below.

Physical Evidence
  • It refers to all the factors that combine to create a pleasing atmosphere for the client.
  • Physical evidence is what attracts your customers first - they will judge your service/product after looking at your physical evidence.
  • If this entity is properly implemented, you will garner customer support irrespective of whether your product is up to the expected standards.
  • Services are highly important in marketing to retain consumer faith. This is largely dependent on the tangible comfort that is offered to consumers.
  • A few factors that are included in physical evidence are enlisted below.
Ambience
  • It refers to the atmosphere - in terms of aspects, like color, size, smell, sound, theme, music, etc.
  • A good ambience depends on the business as well - for example, a restaurant is said to have a good ambience if it has attractive wallpapers, beautiful art on the walls, lovely music, etc. Similarly, a corporate office has a good ambience if it has tasteful art on the walls (sober, not flashy), a good color combination for the walls, etc.
  • The quality of ambience is measured by how well these factors are combined and used. A small mistake may change the atmosphere and make it unbearable. For example, imagine if a simple coffee house has unnecessarily loud music and skeleton art hanging all over. Will it look attractive? It might possibly drive customers away. Therefore, this factor has to be kept in mind while offering service.
Layout
  • It refers to the way your service area is spaced out.
  • Referred to as spatial layout, it helps give an impression of how spacious the place is.
  • This includes arranging the elements of the room in such a way that they do not seem crowded and uncomfortable.
  • At the same time, care should be taken to ensure that the elements are not compromised upon. For instance, consider the website of a famous company. You need to design it in the most attractive way possible, with impressive design, proper tabs, and logos. If you fall short of space because you need a spacious layout, do not compromise by deleting a necessary tab. Instead, think of an alternative design by means of which you can retain the originality along with the inclusion of all the elements.
Artifacts
  • Technically, artifacts refer to artistic objects that have some kind of historical value.
  • Most corporate offices have lovely artifacts placed in their workplaces; it does not necessarily mean that they are interested in where the artifact originated.
  • Such décor, however, enhances the look and feel of the place, and is considered as a status symbol.
  • You might have noticed many high-end places decorated with paintings of renowned painters. It helps create the right atmosphere.
Furnishings
  • It includes the furniture and other comfort aspects.
  • The right kind of furniture needs to be used - this includes chairs, tables, recliners, cupboards, beds, wardrobes, couches, etc.
  • This aspect is especially very important for the hospitality industry.
Types

Peripheral Evidence
  • It is not a standalone evidence, i.e., it needs to depend on something.
  • It is a part of the service, rather than the service itself. It adds to service value.
  • It is designed from the perspective of the customer. For example, a hotel room has aspects like towels, soaps, drinks, etc. These things add to the service value, but are of no use until the room is actually booked by someone.
Essential Evidence
  • It is a standalone evidence, i.e, It is independent in its own right.
  • It is the service - not just an enhancing aspect.
  • It is not something that can be owned by the customer, i.e., the layout and look of the hotel. It will influence the customers nevertheless.
Examples

Example I: Restaurants
  • Restaurants are places where a customer prefers to relax and enjoy. It is therefore, very essential to take care of the physical evidence in this case.
  • If the restaurant is based on a theme, incorporate the elements of the theme in the interiors.
  • For example, if you have a restaurant that specializes in Mexican cuisine, research on the history and culture of Mexico and decorate the restaurant accordingly.
  • Have ancient-themed interiors and historical antiquities all around.
  • The furniture should be clean, spaced out, and ethnic.
  • Take note of the staff uniform, hygiene, and wall art.
  • Have traditional music and take care of other aspects, like equipment, cutlery, etc.
  • This goes for anything - right from small hotels to seven-star restaurants. It even applies to cafes, cake shops, coffee shops, etc.
Example II: Retail Stores
  • Physical evidence is highly crucial in retail marketing.
  • There is a difference between buying a product from an authentic showroom and from a regular shop.
  • Retail outlets include all the product stores - electronic items, clothes, cosmetics, shoes, bags, accessories, grocery stores, etc.
  • The interiors of the outlets should be pleasing and attractive.
  • The shops need to be air-conditioned and spacious, with prompt customer service.
  • Proper signage should be present to help customers navigate to their section in malls and multiplexes.
  • There should be no trace of dust or dirt. Even if the customer is not very hygienic in his personal life, a dirty table/floor may put him off.
  • Have light music and keep the noise decibel low so that the store ceases to look like a fish market.
Example III: Hospitals
  • Well, hospitals are obviously not a place where people prefer to relax; the last thing on their minds would be to check out the interiors of the place when their friend/family is in the emergency care.
  • Nevertheless, the least you can do is have a reassuring atmosphere to ease off their worries.
  • Have huge interior spaces and proper signs - people need to know where the emergency ward is, or the gynecology section, or the radiology department, etc.
  • Make sure the walls and rooms are painted properly; do not use flashy colors, but do not use any dull, depressing color either.
  • Hang soothing prints on the walls.
  • Have proper boards installed at all places, displaying the room numbers, floors, and other details so that the families of patients can find their way easily.
  • Use inspiring wall art, for instance, you can have a beautiful painting that says, "All trials are not the reason to give up, but a challenge to improve ourselves. Our pain is not an excuse to back out, but an inspiration to move on.". You never know when and how it might light hope in people.
Example IV: Resorts
  • Now, that's a heavy one. Resorts need every small aspect to be in perfect condition.
  • To begin with, the exterior of the resort needs to be huge and palatial (preferably). The gardens surrounding the resort need to be beautifully manicured, swimming pools need to be cleaned and maintained, the same goes for the jacuzzi and bars.
  • Inside, make sure the interiors are designed beautifully. You can use mural art and wooden flooring. Or, you could use marble and ceramics. Whatever combination you choose, the elements need to be compatible with each other.
  • The rooms need to be designed properly. Services like telephone, tea/coffee sachets, toiletries, bed sheets, etc., need to be in perfect order.
  • Try to avoid narrow corridors. Or if you cannot do so, spice up the corridor with some lovely wall hangings.
  • Use incense sticks or fresheners or any other item that infuses the space with lovely smells so that your clients feel pleased and happy.
Example V: Corporate Offices
  • Most of us would visualize dull colors and furniture with corporate offices, but it need not be so.
  • Depending upon your enterprise, you can decorate your office space in the best way possible.
  • Most office floors have cubicles and cabins, but that is what the challenge is. You have to make use of the small space to come up with ideas.
  • For example, a construction firm can have building models or architectural tools installed all over. A software firm can have random abstract wall art. Funky prints and hangings will work very well for event management companies.
  • Make sure you have a great cafeteria, sufficient coffee machines and washrooms, and the necessary office appliances.
  • Use brown, beige, and black for the interiors, they are great colors that will suit an office atmosphere. Navy blue, teal, camel, etc., are great choices too.
Example VI: Airports
  • Well, it is more than obvious that the spatial layout of an airport has to be enormous. With people rushing in and out 24 X 7, you cannot afford a small space.
  • Airports need to be cool and clean, and proper signboards are the most important aspect.
  • The luggage trolleys need to be arranged in the right place, plenty of washrooms are a necessity, and furnishings need to be comfortable.
  • Have sufficient staff at the gate area, lounge, baggage claim, conveyor belts, and all the other counters.
  • The airline needs to look good as well. The oxygen masks, life jackets, etc., need to be at a lesser distance from the passenger.
  • Take note of the parking, landscape, cab stands, etc.
Example VII: Private Ventures
  • Private ventures range from hotels to beauty salons to spas to event management companies.
  • Such businesses provide exclusive service, hence their physical environment has to be beyond impressive.
  • A wedding planner's office must be decorated as colorfully as possible (nothing gaudy). The interiors must reflect the profession and perfection.
  • The fabrics, lighting, and other décor must be placed properly for the convenience of the client.
  • The office must have a corporate feel along with a personal touch.
  • Have samples, catalogs, albums, designs, etc, ready for the client.
  • Using wicker furniture and traditional art is a great idea. It'll make your clients feel they have walked into a medieval village.
  • Beauty parlors and spas need to have enticing looks.
  • Your clients are waiting to be pampered - and your interiors must make them eager to try out your services.
  • You have a myriad of choices, you can come up with the most creative ideas to make your office look beautiful.
  • Have statues, paintings, artificial waterfalls, sculptures, etc., to embellish your workplace.
Example VIII: Sporting Event Companies
  • Sporting event firms, like tourism companies, rely heavily on physical evidence to market themselves.
  • When you go to the stadium, you would have noticed that the seats have been efficiently placed, banners and hoardings have been erected, the staff runs around with drinks, sports t-shirts are distributed, etc.
  • Terrific efforts are taken to maintain an electric atmosphere.
  • Similarly, for bars and clubs, the latest groovy music and discotheque lights are essential to create the right environment.
Physical evidence is a very important component of the service marketing mix. It does not matter what kind of target audience we have, providing the best physical environment with tangible benefits is important to all the customers. Managing services is slightly more complicated than managing products, given the complexity of standardization. However, when done with precision, you'll have the best service and an incredible customer support, which is a crucial factor for any business.