You pride yourself on being a top-notch service provider, and you’ve successfully grown a large client base.
The good news: you have a lot of work.
The not-so-good news: you have so much work that you’re starting to feel overwhelmed.
You need to get back on track, but you don’t know where to start.
Here’s an idea: leverage the power of product marketing to grow your business.
Productize your service.
The Bucket List
Custom services are notoriously time-and-effort-consuming. If you’re spending half your time on sales and administrative tasks, that leaves you only half of your available time for delivery of the service that actually generates your revenue.
Productizing your service can free you up from having to manually tackle every aspect of your business. If you systematize specific tasks, you’ll speed up service delivery, enhance the customer experience – and grow your business.
Another aspect that is not talked about as often is that productizing your service makes it more “sellable”. If you ever want to get out of this business and pursue other avenues, a productized offering makes it more attractive to a potential buyer.
But before you productize, prioritize.
Categorize all your tasks into buckets:
- Resource intensive but very little revenue
- Low resource but highly profitable
- Resource intensive but highly profitable
- Low resource and low profit
Now, chuck the projects that are low profit, and zero in on the highly profitable project categories.
Break High Profit Projects Down into Simple, Repeatable Tasks
When you define your tasks, you make them accessible to improvement – meaning you can work faster and more efficiently, and deliver higher quality.
A freelance writer’s task list might include:
- Topic ideation
- Making preliminary notes
- Creating the first draft
- Completing a final draft
- Proofreading and submission
A social media marketer’s task list might include:
- Establishing your goal
- Identifying your audience
- Analyzing the competition
- Selecting a social channel
- Planning for the best times to post content
- Measure performance and repeat
Once you’ve done this, you’ll have created a service delivery template that you can use consistently - and you can scale it, allowing you to achieve the same results with fewer resources.
Scaling the Steps
For each of the steps on your task list, establish a scalable strategy. Then look for the tools that will help you organize and streamline your work.
For example, mind mapping software can be a great tool for writers in the brainstorming and early draft stages. It allows you to “think” visually – to generate and synthesize thoughts, ideas and plans effectively – in ways that doodles never could.
Evernote – another great app to use as you’re gathering material – lets you create notes, organize, manage tasks, and archive everything from text to audio to photographs.
For writers who are chronically deadline-challenged: look for project-management software that establishes milestones and deadlines.
If social media presence is important for your business, save yourself time and effort by investing in software that automatically schedules posts.
If digital outreach is high on your priority list but your time is limited, make use of a sales automation tool that will send out emails for you.
If you need help remembering and sticking to your “to-do” list – there’s an app for that!
There is a world of options literally at your fingertips to keep your business organized and on track – and optimize your work time.
Making the Price Right
Productizing means your service is your product, and you sell it as a “package” for an established price.
Your clients know what they’re getting and paying, and you know what you’re expected to deliver. No crossed wires.
To determine what you’ll charge for your “package”, look at each step in your process and assign it a value. Factors to consider in calculating your costs:
- Material costs: the costs of goods you use in providing the service
- Labor costs: the cost of direct labor you hire when outsourcing your writing or other projects.
- Overhead costs: the indirect costs to your business, including rent, insurance, taxes, advertising, office supplies, mileage, utilities, etc.
- Competitors' pricing: know what competitors are charging for similar services in the marketplace to determine the fair market value
- Fair profit margin: after determining costs, mark up the price for your service to ensure you meet your profit target. Keep it reasonable: you don’t want to price yourself out of the market!
What’s On the Menu?
Offer your services on a menu of “products” that clearly defines what the customer gets at every price level.
For example, offer a writing package of up to 2000 words for $100 per month. Or a social media marketing package that includes a specific number of posts for a set price.
Consider add-ons at specific price points. If you design business cards, for example, you might start at $5 for a basic design – and provide more elaborate options for an additional rate. Or as a web designer, you can offer small, medium, and large options with different numbers of elements, and price them accordingly.
So while you’re offering a specific service, you’re also providing a choice of “packages”.
If initially, the prospect of pricing seems daunting, there are tools at your service for this. You can easily put together a templatized proposal and tweak it with a few adjustments for each client. Don’t worry about leaving out any important details. They’re baked in!
The Big Picture
You get the idea.
If your workload is expanding but your available hours aren’t, productizing your service just makes sense.
It lets you automate and/or outsource more of your business processes, freeing you up to devote time to what requires your attention – or to what you really like doing. And it can help you buy the time you need to actually grow your business, instead of just trying to keep your head above water.
Productizing delivers multiple near-term benefits: it saves you time, increases accuracy and efficiency, and refines your pricing.
And there’s a big long-term benefit: it makes revenue predictable – which allows you to make strategic investments in service improvement. Improved service delivers better results for your clients. Well-defined pricing and service delivery make clients happy, because they have clear expectations.
And happy clients attract more business.
The big picture: work less, earn more, provide more value for clients.
Sounds like a good recipe. So get to work on that menu.