This post is part 1 of The Ultimate Productized Services ResourceIn October last year I made the decision to focus any new internet marketing client work solely on the ski niche, an industry that I had no connections in but a lot of customer insight and passion having done a season myself. I went to the biggest UK ski trade show and picked up my first ski clients by selling SEO (it was a b2c show but I managed to b2b them!). After a few months I had got myself back into the situation where I had no more personal capacity to take on additional clients and no time to do any content marketing or outbound sales to pick up any more. I had hit an income and stress ceiling which I didn’t know how to get out of.
That was until I first heard about the concept of productizing services and I created my first product page with pricing table on snowbistro.com (now at products.snowbistro.com/range) My understanding of how to add value and how to scale businesses completely changed.
So what are productised services?
A productized services business is one that sells and packages up a service as if it were a product, with a standardized list of features, a fixed price and delivered by a set date.
So why would you want to start a productized service?
Freelancing is not scalable as you have a fixed number of hours you are trading for income. The agency model scales but as a business model it kinda sucks as you end up competing with others through writing proposals where the majority lose and every new client has different expectations to manage. Competition with agencies is not inherently a bad thing, but when the market is saturated with generic design and marketing agencies (as is the case in my home city of Norwich, UK) chasing after the same pitches then it’s often a race to the bottom. As Peter Thiel stated on the Tim Ferriss podcast, competition is actually the opposite of being capitalistic; Google makes so much money because it dominates the search and online advertising market. Find your niche and dominate it.
This is the approach I’ve taken with the UK ski industry. Through content marketing for a productized service business snowbistro.com, I became an authority in the ski trade and the obvious choice to go to for inbound marketing as was the only one with visible products; everyone else just stated on a services page that they can do SEO, content, social, blog etc but didn’t give any prices. Productization enables you to make the implicit explicit you can dominate the competition (especially in opaque industries such as SEO agencies).
What are the benefits of productized services?
- No more clients from hell – as your product offering is fixed, so are expectations on both sides.
- No more writing client proposals – you set out your offering with a buy button to purchase
- You can launch in a day – just put together a sales page and mail your list
- Easier to sell – by offering a set solution with specific deliverables there’s far less friction to win customers
- You get paid up front – this is what customers do – and you price on value (solving their problem) not cost.
- Make more money – your income is not linked to how many pitches you win or the number of hours you or your team have in a day
- Automate service delivery – products allow you to create standard operating procedures (SOPs) that can be delivered by others and improved upon with every new customer
- Automate your marketing – standardizing services into products enables you to conduct automated outbound sales emails to prospects.
- You’re building an income generating asset that you could sell – as delivery and customer acquisition can be systematized and automated the business doesn’t need you as owner to succeed.
Through productization the “client is always right relationship” becomes a true partnership where value is delivered to your customers. Plus a fixed price means no more clients trying to haggle or negotiate you down and no more chasing for payment.
40+ Productized Service Examples
The following businesses are a combination of process driven productized services delivered by teams as well productized consulting with an individual expert.
- Design Pickle – unlimited graphic design by your personal graphic designer
- Superfast Business – productized coaching, website and traffic services
- WP Curve – ‘service as a service’ wordpress support [update: not sure if signing up new clients after being acquired by Godaddy)
- Rocking Book Covers – book covers for authors
- Cafe Create – transparent and fixed priced creative design packages
- Draft Revise & Draft Coaching – monthly UX optimisation and coaching services
- CopyHackers – one-off CRO copywriting website review
- Business & Bootstrapping – lead generation about pages
- My Content Sherpa – monthly content marketing to grow your list
- Audience Ops – content marketing for SaaS companies that includes marketing funnels and content promotion
- Testing.Agency – design and development for your a/b-tests
- Correlation – Monthly Creative Direction for Software Companies
- Black Light – monthly conversion rate optimisation
- Abroaders – travel hacking agency
- Brass Tacks – analytics reporting
- Bench – monthly bookeeping products
- Growthgeeks – platform where experts and freelancers can package up their services
- Kudu – fixed price adwords products
- Restaurant Engine – web design & hosting as a service
- Website Rescues – CRO website redesign
- Kai Davis – SEO productized consulting
- Help Flow – done for you live chat as a service
- Chalet Engine – web design & hosting for ski niche
- Snowbistro – traffic and conversion products for ski niche
- Undullify – unlimited monthly graphic design jobs
- 3 Wise Bears – accountancy as a service
- Wealth Enhancers – business & financial advice
- Dr Alexis Shields – online medical consultations
- GDPCIC – perfect bound book printing as a service
- Tourism Tiger – websites for tour operators
- Podcast Motor – podcast hosting and editing as a service
- Cashflow Podcasting – podcast editing as a service
- Landingpageinanday.com – a productized offering of Jarrod’s Cascade landing page framework
- WP Theory – Your website launched in a day
- Zenkeep – bookeeping as a service startup
- Brand New Copy – content marketing & promotion as a service
- Koko Content – content marketing & promotion as a service
- Book In A Box – $25k package takes you from idea all the way to professionally published book
- Protect Your Passion – helping entrepreneurs build & legally protect their online businesses
- Cloudoptimus – Ultra SecureStupid Fast WordPress Hosting for Professional Bloggers
- Speedkills.io – new ‘managed hosting as a service’ by Vic Dorfman (this site is hosted with them)
- Memberfix – Unlimited membership site & WordPress support from $297
- Whole – ecommerce marketing services for shopify
- PPC Landing Pages – PPC conversion focussed landing pages done for you
- WP Quickie – small one time WP tasks as a productized service
- LightSpeedWP – WordPress speed optimization productized service
How To Productize
Start by picking the one service that is a combination of most in demand by clients (their biggest problem), most profitable for you and the easiest to deliver. This will have the best chance of that over-used phrase product/market fit and you will likely need to iterate your products & packages several times with each potential customer interaction. I’ve even changed the sales page and items in the pricing table whilst on the phone to a prospective client, upping or reducing the price based on how the conversation was going!
I started by offering ski companies ski content marketing products as I thought this would be the easiest to deliver as I would just have to take the money and then commission out the work to writers and worst case I could write the content myself. However it was ski SEO products which I had the most traction with splitting up on-site and off-site work into three different products, two being one-off payments and the other a rolling monthly setup. (December 2016, I now have a consolidated product range but am turning snowbistro into an authority site rather than productized services going forward).
Back then there were simply buy now buttons in the pricing table which connected to paypal.
Update – Productizing in 2017
A lot has changed in the two years since I first published this post. Since then I double downed on my main business funnelengine.com which is based on clickfunnels where I created entire funnels from optin through to payment and upsells using stripe.
This has been my most successful business yet having sold over $50k of funnels and now it’s generating $2k/m in affiliate income (read how I’m now focussing on an affiliate challenge in this post) I’ve subsequently decided to close down the done for you packages.
Marketing Channels For Your Productized Business
I’ve generated this revenue almost exclusively through content (inbound marketing) and content promotion however if your one off packages are priced high enough or have a monthly package to get at least $2k in lifetime customer value you can also do outbound. You can find prospects on LinkedIn or Twitter, putting their names and emails into a mass personalised email software such as Quickmail and then when you get a reply put these leads into your CRM and begin your sales process.
If you want help in productizing your services I recommend the excellent productize course by Brian CaselCheck Out The Productized Course