If you try to grow your consulting or freelance revenue by merely adding more clients to your portfolio, you may hit a common obstacle: Living project to project.
This kind of lifestyle isn’t sustainable for everyone, and it can be frustrating and stressful.
One solution to this problem may be productized services.
The productized services model allows agency owners, freelancers, and consultants to break out of billing by the hour or per project and instead invoice by sets of services rendered.
What Are Productized Services For?
Productized services are standardized services sold like products, with clearly defined parameters and pricing.
When we outline precisely what a customer will get and at what price, we can market and sell this “product” many times. The customer is still receiving a service, now with the appealing predictability of an off-the-shelf product.
Benefits of Productized Services for Freelancers and Consultants
Productized services allow you to grow your business and serve more customers without doing a ton of hands-on work on each project. The model is duplicatable and should only need modifications, not overhauls, from client to client or project to project.
Once you productize your service, you can sell it to multiple customers. This may allow your income to grow without drastically increasing your expenses. You may even be able to expand your service area as it should be easier to deliver your services.
You can sell this product while busy with other projects or while taking time off. If you want to bring on a few employees, you can train them to sell these pre-packaged solutions for you.
Additionally, a robust portfolio of productized services could be taken over and managed by someone new if you want to take a step back from being fully in charge.
So far, this may sound a lot like charging hourly, per word, and so forth.
However, with productized services, you know exactly how much you’ll be bringing in once each project is complete. This means less worry about if a piece will take significantly longer or shorter than anticipated or wondering if you should refuse a project in hopes a more lucrative one will come along.
For even more predictability, you can sell subscriptions to your services. This lets you package and market a productized service quickly without investing time in the development over and over again.
It could additionally eliminate scope creep, saving you time and money and preserving your profit per customer, and often has a faster turnaround time in the long run.
Benefits of Productized Services for Your Customers
Productized services offer your customers an affordable alternative to traditional service agreements, where they might be paying for one on one attention and unpredictable hours. A productized service provides them with a set price and scope of work and the chance to choose what fits their budget.
With more service providers creating productized services every day, there are plenty of choices available to make sure they find a solution that fits their needs. Keeping these costs down may allow them to invest more money in other aspects of their business.
Examples of Productized Services
Productized services can come in many forms and are limited only by the imagination of the providers. Almost any service company can take its most popular offerings and create a solution to suit most customers.
While many are business-to-business (B2B) solutions helping other business owners, this model can also work for business-to-customer (B2C) offerings.
Consider a personal trainer who can only take on so many clients if they are booking individual hourly sessions. That same trainer could create online training sessions and support a much higher client volume.
They may charge less for online access than personalized training, but the number of clients could quickly make up the difference. The trained could even choose to have in-person sessions while their online ones are occurring.
The key is to target specific needs for a particular group of clients. If you hit the mark, you may find many customers are happy to take advantage of well-defined, pre-made work for a simple and affordable price.
Here are just a few productized services examples from companies making this idea work for them. Some are recurring subscriptions, with services delivered at regular intervals, and others are one-off engagements.
The common thread is that you’re selling the same service or work to multiple customers, with no customization or extra work needed for each one.
A growing productized service offering is content creation. Once your clients realize the power of content marketing, they may recognize this is an unwieldy task to handle in-house.
Take a look at a couple of content creation productized service companies:
Scribly offers scalable content marketing services to boost traffic and leads.
Growth Machine plans, writes, optimizes, and then builds links to their customers’ business blogs.
Many business owners worry about the cost of website development and avoid or delay the project altogether. A done-for-you package with a set price can be attractive.
There are several website design productized services:
Software with a service (also known as SWaS) is implementing and managing an established software platform. If you provide this portion of work to clients with a repeatable process, you can sell a productized service to support an existing software platform.
For examples of software productized services, take a look at the following:
Bench uses its own software and supports clients in using it. They then manage the bookkeeping and reporting with monthly plans.
Companies with the best productized service results identified gaps in the market, offered quality services priced right, and went big on the marketing.
Their websites immediately impact strong branding and messaging, with all the information needed to consider their offerings. Plans and packages are clearly outlined with pricing, and help is a click away on most sites via online chat or one-click contact buttons.
How to Create a Productized Service
To create a productized service, you need to figure out which of your services suit an easily packaged “product.”
Consider pain points you can solve for your customer. What do most of your customers need? What services do you commonly offer with a predictable scope of work and cost?
1. Identify Your Niche
Choose a service in demand by clients that’s easy for you to deliver via a smooth and predictable process. A predictable process makes it more likely you can turn a profit, and high demand means you already know there’s a market for this service.
Ideally, you need an idea that hits these targets that no one else offers quite like you can. If a service has already been perfected by someone else your clients could easily access, consider trying something else.
2. Develop Your Format
Next, you need to decide what format you’ll use to deliver your productized service. There’s a wide range of possibilities here. You could create courses or training sessions, offer your ideas in a book, create design templates, or create a website to provide your content—whatever makes the most sense.
3. Determine the Structure
Consider how often your clients typically need this particular service. Will you offer one-time support or recurring subscriptions?
For example, if you create logo designs for startups, you likely want to provide one-off packages with a defined scope of work included.
If you offer a support service for recurring needs like bookkeeping, software with a service, or content creation, consider a subscription structure where clients pay a set amount per month.
Additionally, you need to figure out if your services are limited or unlimited. How much support will your client need in addition to the productized service?
Consider how often a typical client needs your help and how much it costs to deliver. Your pricing needs to cover these costs. You may have to tweak the pricing as you test different options and compare your revenue and expenses.
4. Refine Your Productized Service
Once you’ve chosen your productized service, you just need to add a list of productized services to your website, right? Not so fast.
When you start to productize your service or expertise, there’s a lot of learning to do. You may find your first idea doesn’t take off, but it may lead you to a better idea that will attract more customers.
You may need to consider different levels of service plans or packages to capture your market. It could take several iterations before you start seeing success, so keep testing. You also might have to try a few combinations of structure and pricing to make your offer truly tempting.
Once you have a winning combination, test different ways of selling it on your website, advertising it with paid ads, and other types of marketing. Repeat what works, and keep refining your idea and your offer.
5. Become an Industry Expert
People buy from experts and trusted resources. Research the competition in your niche, make sure you offer the best packages or plans and dig into the quality you can provide once clients sign up.
You also need to invest time in marketing your productized service and sharing your successes as you get some wins. Collect and share client testimonials so potential customers can feel reassured they’re coming to the right place with their needs.
Once you realize there are only so many billable hours in a day, the need to grow in new ways becomes clear. Figuring out how to charge your customers is always a challenge, but this takes the conversation to a whole new level.
While individual consulting and custom services may be the gold standard, many businesses can’t absorb the cost.
Additionally, many companies don’t need this level of service. If you can take the most common services you offer and create packaged solutions to cover most clients, you may grow more quickly.
If you’re looking to scale your business, this is a trend you shouldn’t ignore. If you aren’t sure where to start, reach out to chat about consulting services and let us help.
How could productized services help you scale your business in new ways?