Marketing for public services

A critical review of " Managerialist thinking on Marketing for Public Services"

A critical review of Anthony Kearsey and Richard J.Varey, 1998, "Managerialist thinking on Marketing for Public Services". Public Money and Management, pp 51-60.

The purpose of this review is to critically analyze the article "Managerialist thinking on Marketing for Public Services" by Anthony Kearsey and Richard J.Varey. It aims to carefully examine the article in the author's argument. It starts with a brief summary of the text in review, and then continues to critic some claims and arguments. The review ends with a conclusion to sum up all the points and decide on the efficiency of Anthony Kearsey and Richard J.Varey's article in convincing its audience to accept its argument in term of the suitability of using market concepts into public sector.

Anthony Kearsey and Richard J.Varey's article is basically based on giving various definitions of "Marketing", "The public sector" and "the Linkage of marketing in public sector" from several marketing scholars. Additionally, the text makes an effort to clarify whether marketing management in private sector differ to public sector or not. In order to answer this question, the text is divided into 8 parts which are "Marketing Services", "The public Sector"' "Contrasting Organizational Contexts", "Exchange and Consumer Choice", "Marketing Management and Planning", "The Marketing Mix - Toolbox", "Implementation Issues" and conclusion of the text. In this review, I will focus on the key question that was addressed here, the important information, some of the key concepts and the author's main assumption and the argument in this article respectively.

First of all, the article begins to attempt asking the question that remains unanswered which is "What is, or should be, the proper domain of marketing theory: and, is services marketing different from products marketing?" (Varey, 1998, p.51) This article narrows the audience to answer the question by providing a number of definitions and concepts both in marketing and social marketing. I, personally, think that this is a good beginning because it is very important to clarify all basic background information in order to construct audience understanding. One of the most universal important social marketing definitions is from Kotler's book;

"Marketing is a social and managerial process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need and want through creating, offering, and exchanging products of value with others" (Kotler, 1991, p.4).

Second of all, "Marketing Services" , some authors have been questioned the suitability of applying marketing strategy in service sector such as Cowell, 1984 by summarizing the characteristics of service which are "Intangibility", "Inseparability", "Heterogeneity", "Perishability", and "Ownership". However, it is also argued in its text that even marketing is mainly applied in commercial business; services are the crucial business of public sectors (Varey, 1998, p.52). Therefore, the point that is needed to examine is analyzing carefully the nature of the public service for its appropriate using.

Additionally, it is unacceptable to avoid talking about "The Public Sector" because it is also significant for the readers to understand it clearly in order to be able to analyze the connection between social marketing and public sector. It is noticed that the text provides quite unclear definition and characteristic of the public sector. However, it is found from other articles that the unique characteristic of public sector is "service" is the main of public goods rather that tangible product (Andreas M. Kaplan, 2009, p. 199). Moreover, Liang (2003) noted that public sector is dominated by politic rather than economic as well as the first priority is citizen rather than individual consumer which the service will be served in multiple dimension.

Coming to "Contrasting Organizational Contexts", the article provides the identification of non- profit organization, including "multiple, non-financial, conflicting", "Lack of agreement on means-ends", "Environmental Turbulence", "Immeasurable outputs" and "Effects of management intervention". In my view, these factors could be considered as the constraint of using marketing theory in public sector in someway as well. In particular, environment in organization which somehow is inflexible and too bureaucratic which results in obstacle and delay of any making decision. Therefore, these factors are strongly recommended to be understood in order to apply the marketing theory appropriately. Moreover, understanding the nature of its non - profit organization and marketing is coming to be accepted as part of the managerial process in the public service (Walsh, 1994).

Focusing on, "Exchange and Consumer Choice" and "Marketing Management and Planning", the author makes an effort to discuss how the management in public sector is built. It is said in the text as Flynn (1990), cited in Anthony Kearsey and Richard J.Varey, 1998, p.54, assumes that the management in public service could be constructed between the relationship of the organization and users. This is engaged in "proactively creating, developing, and maintaining committed, interactive and profitable exchanges with selected customers over time" (McLaughlin, 2009, p.37). Beside, not only considering the users of service is crucial, but "Marketing management and planning" are also play as an important factor that is required in managerialisting marketing for public services. The managing and planning strategies that are suggested in the text is from Doyle (2006) who identified the 6 forms of the development of marketing strategy, including "Marketing analysis", "Customer analysis", "Competitive analysis", "Trade analysis", "Environmental analysis" and lastly is " Economic and stakeholder analysis". Nevertheless, these disciplines are difficult to apply directly to the public services and social programs. It is, therefore, necessary to involve with one tool called "The Marketing Mix Toolbox" with the purpose of an achievement in public service managerialism. This tool comprises of product, price, distribution, promotion, people, physical evidence as well as process. However, it is clearly that implementing this tool in business context is different to public service context such as the price of service cannot be charged.

Moving to "Implementation Issues", which is the most important concept that is strongly needed to be understood in my view. Although what have been mention earlier are also very crucial and necessary to aware, it will be nothing if we do not know how to implement all strategies appropriately. Management in public service is moderately complicated as Bean and Hussey (1997) stated that implementation in non profit organizations have been limited due to legislative restriction, political provision, lack of financial and physical resources. The author, however, explains how to implement the issue more effectively which is aiming more responsive to customer.

Having been explained above, it aims to simplify what the author endeavor to inform us. It actually, provides a number of literatures concentrate on view of managerial marketing in private and public service context. Furthermore, it can be noticed in the last paragraph that the author also experience difficulties that almost referencing literatures are fairly narrow and have not provided enough information to answer the key question, which is the suitability of using market concepts into public sector. However, my view was opened after reading this text resulting in ability to answer this question. It is believed that marketing principle is able to apply for managerial social service if it is used in appropriate way. Clearly, even marketing is difficult to apply because it is seen that public services process is unique and diversity depending on nature of each organization

"Social marketing is the use of marketing principles and techniques to influence a target audience to voluntarily accept, reject, modify, or abandon a behavior for the benefit of individuals, groups, or society as a whole" (Kotler, 2002) (Kotler, 2002, p.5)


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