Here’s Why You Should Consider Productizing
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Maybe you’re a freelancer still billing by the hour, looking to escape the daily grind.
Or maybe you’re a part of a creative agency, but you’re having trouble keeping up with client demands, scaling and growing, or just generally staying above water.
The good news is that there’s a great way to overcome the daunting task of trying to work with customers and clients that don’t really pay you enough, waste your time, or want things you simply can’t offer.
The key is productization.
While that may be a buzzword floating around the creative industry, there’s actually a huge case for why productizing your services may be your ticket to the big leagues (or at least out of the gutters).
Here’s what you need to know…
Productization is where you take a skill that you already possess and package it in such a way that you can sell it over and over again.
There are several reasons why this is a preferable model for many freelancers or even creative agencies:
Generate passive income. Productization is the definition of working smarter not harder.
Escape the 9-to-5. You don’t have to bill hourly, you can create strategic pricing to make you income
Move from freelancer to business owner. This is a great way for freelancers to transition into a leadership role without having to start a fully fledged agency.
Scale and grow quickly. It’s also a great way for agencies to increase profits and expand their business without needing to hire on a bunch of new staffers (unless you want to, of course).
Be seen as an industry authority. Productization makes you an expert at whatever you’re selling, which gives you instant credibility with customers.
Make something intangible tangible. You don’t have to try to figure out exactly what the customer wants or waste countless hours customizing offerings.
Increase productivity. Both you and your customers will know what they’re getting and when they can expect it, so you don’t have to do any extra work.
And above all, your customers will love you. If done consistently and with professionalism, productization is a great way to make your customers happy. You’re giving them what they want while reaping plenty of benefits for your own business, too.
Getting Started with Productization
Now you may be saying, “This sounds great, but how do I get started?” Here are a few things to consider when starting the productization process.
Explore the value your productized service will add
There’s no point in productizing just for the sake of it. You need value. Unless your service genuinely adds a benefit to your customer’s lives, they won’t buy it, and your dreams of living off of mountains of passive income will all be for nothing.
What will your productized service provide that the competitors don’t? Will it save time? Money? Energy? What pain points do your customers have that will be alleviated with your product?
You should also consider the value that it will add to you, aside from the financial gain. Will you have to work more or less? Will you need to hire people (and therefore manage a team) or can you still do it on your own? Will your team actually add value or would it stress you out more?
Define what is standardized and what is customizable
At first you will create a package and sell it to your customers saying, “This is what we offer. Dig in!” But eventually (it happens to everyone) a customer will come to you and ask for something special.
Maybe it’s a bonus feature, or something customized to them that wasn’t included in the package. You’ll have to decide whether or not those custom requests are worth your time and energy. After all, you standardized the offering so that you wouldn’t have to do more work.
However, if enough people are asking, you may consider adding on an additional product. But if only a small percentage of your customers are asking for something, it’s a better bet to point them elsewhere.
Have a solid plan of action
Your productized service will also need a good foundation. You need a blueprint for how you’re going to run things before you start selling.
What’s your customer interview process? Will you send them a questionnaire? Phone interview? Customer survey? What sort of data will you collect?
Having a good onboarding guide and plan for processing payments, having a good workflow, communicating with the client on a regular basis, and a calendar and timeline of all these events will be essential to success.
Automate as much of the process as possible
Again, the whole point of doing this is to save yourself a little time and effort, so take as much work off of your shoulders as possible. One of the best ways to do that is through automating simple tasks and using online tools to facilitate communication.
Slack is great for chatting with clients without overloading your email system. Trello is perfect for managing a workflow. And there are a number of other project management and email tools that can help you out (or you can use something like Zapier to manage the whole lot through integration).
You could also consider hiring on contractors or other freelancers as a part of your team to lighten the load (and do some work while you take that long-awaited vacation). Upwork can help you find inexpensive labor if you’re just starting out, or if you want the best of the best you can find the best talent on TopTal.
Develop a simple pricing system
Of course, the one thing to keep in mind is that you could have a great productized service, but it could all fall apart if your prices are too low (or too high).
If your pricing system is on the low end, you could bring in a lot of business but struggle to keep pace with your expenses (or at the very least, need a cheaper vacation package).
If you’re priced too high, on the other hand, you risk customers not being able to afford you, in which case you’re not going to bring in a lot of business.
However, pricing comes down to value, and if you had to choose between too low or too high, high is a safer bet. Competitive prices on the upper end of the spectrum will attract the attention of the customers you want – namely, those who can afford to pay for the value you offer.
Create a branding strategy for the tangible elements
Finally, it’s important to create the right brand for your service. In the same way a marketer would develop a pitch for a commerce product, you want to create a pitch for your service, too.
What’s your elevator pitch? Again, what pain points does it solve? What would you say to a customer to get them interested? What sort of website do you need to sell this service?
Everything about your brand should be easy to digest, informative, and cohesive for anyone looking to work with you.
Of course, the real question remains: Can I actually productize my business?
The answer is yes! Almost any service can be turned into a product, and if you’re looking to escape the daily grind and move from being an hourly, project-to-project worker to an independent business owner with a scalable service, then productization may be just what you need.
Just remember to have a solid plan in place before you launch, have a cohesive brand strategy, and make sure your service offers something of genuine value for both you and the customer.
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