How can you turn your service offering into a product? In this article, we are going to explore several examples of productized services, looking at the benefits of this business model and offering tips on how you can reshape your own service business to reap these model-specific rewards.
If you’re a digital marketing agency or a design agency, the pricing structure for your services is typically going to be similar to that of a law firm, doctor or therapist. You will charge your clients on a per-hour basis, and they will be on some form of monthly retainer — maybe. You refer to everyone as clients (not customers) and your clients will receive an invoice every month, detailing how much time you spent on their case. You then will wait for your clients to pay — or hope they do.
This seems to be the natural way that many agencies and service-based businesses structure their offering and operate. When it comes to your business model, it’s time to start thinking outside of the box instead of following the crowd. Consumers want to see clear pricing, and the productized service model is the perfect way to deliver this.
If you’re just modelling your service-based business after successful competitors, how are you going to stand out in a potentially crowded market? Turning your service offering into something that resembles a product can help you to stand out from the crowd and potentially increase your value proposition. Having a productized model not only makes your life easier, but it drastically improves the customer’s as well.
Upwork and Fiverr are great examples of this as well. For instance, despite having lots of talented freelancers on its platform, Upwork is positioned like a traditional “agency”. You have to post a job, filter through candidates and negotiate prices. It is a pain and not a great customer experience. On the flip side, Fiverr is completely productized. You can filter services by what you need, sort by reviews and prices and purchase directly on the site with clear deliverables and timelines. When we look at business models specifically that is a great example of what you want to create.
We’re going to take a look at a few highly successful productized services, disecting how they price and position their service offerings under this unique model. Productized services are inherently easier to scale than traditional service offerings, from marketing to production. This is something that we are going to explore later in the article. If you run a traditional service business or are in the early process of “productizing”, then this will be very helpful.
Productized Service Example #1: ManyPixels – Graphic Design
I had to start with one of my favorite productized services started originally by my good friend Robin who now runs ManyRequests. ManyPixels provides small businesses with their own dedicated graphic designer to assist with all their creative needs. Instead of hiring a full-time graphic designer and bringing them in-house, businesses can rely on ManyPixels for unlimited graphic designer requests.
ManyPixels structures its pricing with two distinct subscription packages – Basic and Premium. With the clear-to-understand monthly pricing, potential customers can instantly see the costs of this service, unlike the pay-per-hour setup that can prove to be vague for customers who want to calculate their finances.
This subscription model is great for agencies because it regulates your cash flow and ensures customer longevity. It also adds a level of predictability to your income, enabling you to have an accurate picture of estimated monthly earnings. This means you can manage your expenses more effectively and eliminate any guesswork.
Do you provide a service that customers will require on a recurring basis? This is my favorite type of business model. You could productize your service into monthly, recurring packages, positioning your offering as a subscription. Prospective customers are looking for simplicity and a fixed, recurring price tag provides this.
With the rise of streaming services like Netflix and Disney+, consumers are becoming more accustomed to the idea of paying for a product on a recurring basis at a fixed price. When service-based businesses charge per-hour or have custom proposals, the numbers to be expected on the monthly invoice are going to be wildly unpredictable. This is exactly what we want to avoid.
Productized Service Example #2: Applause Lab – Video Testimonials
This is the perfect excuse to give you a brief rundown of a productized service that I recently launched. Applause Lab has a simple mission: to create video case stories that sell. In a world where video content attracts the highest engagement rates, video testimonials or what I like to call video case stories are becoming a crucial part of sales funnels.
Applause Lab’s done-for-you video testimonial solution is highly scalable, offering a range of flexible and affordable packages to meet the needs of any business. Unlike graphic design, businesses are unlikely to need our production services on a monthly basis. For this reason, we have carefully tailored our packages to accommodate this.
Our three packages – Success, Round of Applause and Standing Ovation – are detailed with an annual price. We recognized that businesses will need video case stories produced throughout the year. However, production would not be frequent enough to warrant a monthly package.
For example, our Success package can provide a business with four video case stories per year for a total of $788. We have been implementing various systems behind-the-scenes to streamline the production of every video case story, allowing us to spend more time engaging with and nurturing new customers.
The recent development of our software product, which facilitates the remote production of video case stories, will play an instrumental role in our systemized approach as we continue to scale. We have been actively working to give our customers and video case story participants added freedoms and levels of flexibility in the production stage. I’m constantly asking, “How can I make this as frictionless for my customers as possible?”.
Next I want to go over a few tips as you think about productizing your service.
Tip #1: Establish A Productized Structure From The Beginning
If you’re just getting started with your service-based business, we highly recommend that you explore the productized service model sooner rather than later. Having consulted with a wide range of startups, I have found that delaying the implementation of a productized structure can only damage things in the long-term.
When you have half of your customer base on your new productized packages and the rest on your old pricing structure, things can start to get messy very quickly. It can become nothing short of a nightmare. This doesn’t mean that well-established service businesses cannot shift to the productized structure, but it is more of a gradual shift. For some inspiration of other productized services, check out our database here.
Tip #2: Focus On Getting a Signed Up To Your Packages
In the first few weeks of launching a new service, you can find yourself eager to get busy and start generating cash flow. One early trap is just saying “yes” to anything. Though great for some cash flow, it comes with strings attached. This natural sense of desperation can often lead to you selling yourself short or getting involved in projects that you typically wouldn’t touch. Productized services should aim to steer away from this type of work. It helps filter out bad customers and helps you say no a lot easier.
Once you have established a tiered pricing model with packages, you should try to make sure that all customers are signing up for these packages, rather than a one-off or irregular project. The productized service model is designed to remove the irregularities project-based work can bring to your cash flow.
Tip #3: Don’t Be Afraid To Offer A Premium Or Niche Service
New service-based businesses can often be hesitant about focusing on providing either a premium or niche service. Ultimately, this stems from the fear of limiting potential growth. They can be afraid of pricing themselves out of the market and concerned about their ability to scale while operating in a hyper-focused niche.
These are understandable responses﹘ it takes courage to carve out your own share of a market, and sometimes, this is exactly what a business needs to do. When you’re offering dozens of services, it’s difficult to be exceptional at every single one of them, inhibiting your growth. Pick a narrowly focused service and be great at it! A great example of this is one of our Productized Mentor members, Adam Crookes, who launched Freshly Squeezed, A SEO driven content writing service. There is no shortage of content writing services out there, but he took an angle of focusing exclusively on CBD companies. This niche has allowed him to scale quickly with limited competition.
Without hesitation, now is the time to start exploring ways to productize your service-based business. If you have recently been dreaming about your next big startup idea, begin thinking about how you could productize this service. This level of forward-thinking will enable you to scale your business quicker.
Who doesn’t want their business to grow into something bigger and more beautiful? Productizing your service is about putting the building blocks in place for your business to function without you, so you can eventually plan an exit strategy. I wish you the very best of luck in productizing your service. If you need help starting, growing or exiting your productized service, learn more about our Productized Mentor membership here.