The Key to Working Less While Earning More

The Real Reasons Why You Need to Create Productized Services

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Productized services are a bit like baking from a recipe rather than inventing a new bread every time.

If you’re looking for ways to scale your business without hiring people, service productization is the way to go. Productized services hold the key to working less and earning more.

Productization, the act of turning ideas and services into products is a great way for freelancers and agencies to sell more while working less. Productized services work because some of the buyers knocking on your door do not need bespoke services. They can be helped by something that is less “made to order” and more “off the shelf.”

Many times, an off-the-shelf product can be sold at the same price as a completely custom-made, bespoke, service. The product having the benefit of requiring a fraction of the work each time it’s delivered. Productized services could be what lets you spend less time working while earning as much as, if not more than, you do today.

If you see a certain service being asked for over and over again, there’s an opportunity to productize it. Let’s look at some ways you can create your own productized service.

Productized Services Can Be Many Different Things

There are many ways you can create service productizations.
There are many ways you can create service productizations.

Examples of productized services include:

  • Knowledge and education: Courses in the form of slides, text or videos. These can have optional premium add-ons in the form of one-on-one calls.
  • Mentoring and coaching: Personal remote training or coaching that is done according to a pre-written plan or format, which saves you on time spent preparing.
  • Standardized services: Things that you can do according to script or create shortcuts for. Producing standardized reports is a type of service that you can automate and sell as a productized service.
  • Tools: Simple applications or tools, such as scripts or spreadsheets, that solve specific problems that you know a certain group has.

There’s a lot of freedom in how you design your productized service offering. You may choose to keep it closed-ended, such as a course, or open-ended as in the case of a retainer. You may also choose to sell your service in tiers or at a single fixed price, or having no public price at all.

Productized Services Are Like Blueberry Pies Made From a Recipe

If productized services seem abstract, try thinking of it like baking a blueberry pie based on a recipe instead of coming up with a new combination of oil, butter, flour, salt, sugar, baking soda and fruit each time.
If productized services seem abstract, try thinking of it like baking a blueberry pie based on a recipe instead of coming up with a new combination of oil, butter, flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, and fruit each time.

If productized services seem a bit confusing, it’s no wonder. Productized services can be many things. What they have in common is that each copy sold is essentially the same and the result of the same process.

You can think of a productized service like the result of cooking or baking using a recipe as compared to making a whole new dish every time. Every blueberry pie you make has the same ingredients and require the same steps.

If You’re Deeply Familiar With a Set of Tasks, Consider Productizing Them

The best way to start with productized services is, to begin with, productizing something you know well. A product works best if the steps involved can be codified or standardized.

For example, productizing a logo design service doesn’t make sense unless you limit what’s included by offering a number of standard templates and a limited number of revisions. But productizing an SEO course you’ve held for a few companies could be quite a success once you’ve made the initial investment of time and effort to produce the teaching materials.

How to Create Your First Productized Service

A working productized service is like a factory line.
A working productized service is like a factory line.

Nick Disabato, whom I had the pleasure to meet a few years ago, gives the following advice to consultants aiming to productize their offering:

Have a Great Idea for Your Product

According to Disabato, you should spend at least five hours per week doing business development, which includes coming up with ideas for new offerings and products. He also recommends attending mastermind groups where you have the chance to bounce your ideas off others.

Your Product Should Solve a Real Business Problem

Good ideas come from understanding the business problems people have. Business problems aren’t like most problems since they have a clear cost. They’re not just painful or frustrating, they’re measurably so. For example, poor website rankings on search engine result pages will result in less traffic and revenue.

To find business problems you need to do a bit of research. It can consist of listening to people in your industry or reading Internet forums, which could yield valuable insights and ideas.

Identify Technologies That Can Help You

Before you decide what your product should do, look into new technologies and tools.

If you’re planning to use video, finding ways to automate the production of video could be a massive time-saver. Another example is email automation which could make it possible for you to provide an email-based course with little effort.

Technologies, combined with things you already know well and have done before, are the foundation of a great product offering.

Your Product Should Be a Solution to a Business Problem

Once you find an interesting business problem, decide what your product should be. Some products take a lot of work up-front. Others can be delivered in installments.

I recommend not investing too much initially, instead, try out the waters and seeing what the demand is. If you’re offering a course, just make the first part and see how prospects respond and what buyers say.

Estimate Your Cost for Producing and Delivering the Product

Once you’ve decided on your solution, estimate how much time it takes to perform. Consider the initial investment as well as the work needed per order. Remember, this is your cost, not your price.

Price the Product Based on the Buyers’ Alternatives

Products are priced based on value. To arrive at a price, try to estimate how much the product is worth to the buyer. In other words, how much labor you are saving them by solving this problem for them.

One way of doing this is to estimate how long time it would take a salaried employee to produce the same results they can achieve by using your product. Don’t forget to include expenses such as perks, office space and vacation time.

Evaluate Whether It’s Worth Doing

Before you can determine whether a product idea is worth your attention, decide whether it’s worth doing. Disabato advises dividing the estimated labor amount you calculated earlier by 10 (due to the fact that an employee’s output is on average 10 times their salary cost). If the quotient (the result of the division by 10) is less than how much it would cost you to deliver the product (as you estimated earlier), discard it. The reason is that no one will buy your product unless it costs less than solving the problem on their own.

Market It Using a Landing Page With Great Easy-to-Read Content

An effective landing page is a great way to market and sell your productized service.
An effective landing page is a great way to market and sell your productized service.

Finally, let the world know about your product. The easiest way is to create a selling landing page you can share or link to from your main website. Here are some pointers for effective and selling landing pages:

Write Winning Headlines

Lead with an attention-grabbing headline that speaks to the intended customer and their needs. Talk about the problem you’re solving in their own words. If you’re selling an SEO report product you could write: “Learn why your website isn’t getting the traffic you were promised.

Tell Buyers What It’s About

Describe what your product does without getting technical or using jargon. Explain the value it provides to the customer. In a business context, value usually translates to time saved, money earned, money saved or risks reduced.

Provide Social Proof, If You Have It

Once you’ve sold a few copies of the product, you can ask happy customers for testimonials. Social proof is extremely strong. The more relevant it is, the better. For example, a CEO will want to read testimonials by other CEOs and executives. So choose testimonials based on your target audience. If you can using marketing automation to show different testimonials depending on who the reader is, even better.

Answer Buyers’ Questions Before They Ask Them

If they’ve read this far you can assume they’re interested. They will be thinking “sounds too good to be true” or “I don’t know if I can trust this person.” Now it’s time to counter such objections or questions. You can make this section of the page like a small FAQ listing questions they might have and answering them.

The More Detail, the More Value

At this point, you’ve probably got them. It’s time to reinforce the value. Describe the product in more detail to prove that it’s real. If you’re offering a course, provide a high-level curriculum and list everything that’s included. Details add substance to your offering which translates to value provided.

Provide a Price, Anchored Against a More Expensive Alternative (Optional)

Finally, present the price. Disabato advises anchoring the price against an alternative. For example, the buyer can either choose your product for the fantastic price of €499 or hire a developer at €1,200 or more. The alternative is the one you considered earlier. If you give a cost for the alternative, provide a source such as the average Upwork price for a similar service.

Some types of products don’t need a price. They’re tailor-made and buyers are fine with that. They often involve a consultation process after which a price is provided.

Add a Call-to-Action Button That Demands Action

Make sure the call-to-action (CTA) button is large and clear. Action-oriented CTA buttons seem to perform better. Instead of saying “click here to pay,” use wording like “Buy It Now”.

Using Form Skip Logic to Qualify Buyers

If you want to further qualify the buyer, use a CTA wording like “Apply Here” or “Request a Quote.” Just make sure it’s clear what happens when the buyer clicks the button and what they can expect.

You can use a form to ask qualifying questions such as industry or budget in case you want to limit your product offering and redirect buyers who are not a good fit. Google Forms now support skip logic so that you can redirect the respondent based on their answers.

Work Out the Kinks by Offering a Test Pilot Customer a Price-Reduced “Test Flight”

Before you launch your product, do a trial run, Disabato advises. These early “test pilot” customers get to pay less by offering feedback in return.

A trial run has several benefits. First of all, it’s a source of raw and honest feedback and a chance to fix those glaring errors that will upset those paying the full price. Also, should your test pilot like your productized service, you can ask them for a fantastic testimonial you can use when marketing your product.

Conclusion: Productized Services Could Be Your Solution to Working Less and Earning More

Productized services could be what finally lets you spend life doing what you really want to be doing.
Productized services could be what finally lets you spend life doing what you really want to be doing.

If your freelancing career, or your agency, has resulted in your working more than you thought possible, productizing some of your services could help. By turning your bespoke services into productized services, you can start making money while you sleep and still enjoy all the benefits of being independent.

What services do you provide that you would like to productize?

Please share in the comments. I read all the comments.

 

This article was inspired by Nick Disabato’s chapter on making a productized consulting offering in the Independent Consulting Manual.

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Author: Jakob Persson

Jakob is the founder and CEO of Zingsight, the company behind Bondsai. He's been involved with the web for over twenty years and has previously co-founded and grown a web agency from 4 to 70 people. Jakob holds degrees in media technology and cognitive science. He consults in product design and management, and business development. Jakob is an experienced skier and a learning scuba diver.