Back in 2013 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 (old pricing table shown below). My understanding of how to add value and how to scale content sites and online 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.
What is productized consulting?
Upside Audit – My Own Productized Consulting
50+ Productized Service Examples
The following businesses are both process driven productized services delivered by teams as well as productized consulting with an individual expert.
Marketing / SEO
Smash Digital – A Clean and Effective Link Building Service
Attention Always – White Hat Link Building That Catapults Your Traffic & Sales
Brand Builders – done for you niche and amazon sites
Superfast Business – productized coaching, website and traffic services
Growthgeeks – platform where experts and freelancers can package up their services
Kudu – fixed price adwords products
Whole – ecommerce marketing services for shopify
Bean Jungle – instagram marketing
Hubsnacks – Unlimited HubSpot tasks for a fixed monthly fee
Heroic Search – Productized SEO services with prices per link
Outreach Artist – influencer outreach and marketing
Social Hackettes – increasing organic social media followers
Podcast Motor – podcast hosting and editing as a service
Cashflow Podcasting – podcast editing as a service
Call For Content – authority marketing agency for podcasters
Content / Writing
Content Ellect – Affiliate, SEO optimized content at $0.07 a word (I’ve paid for it, it’s quality)
Content Refined – monthly content packages including content upgrade (I’ve paid for it, it’s quality)
Human Proof Designs – monthly content packages for affiliate site owners (I’ve paid for it, it’s quality)
CopyHackers – one-off CRO copywriting website review
Audience Ops – content marketing for SaaS companies that includes marketing funnels and content promotion
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
Trust My Paper – fixed priced essay writing service
Flux Content – unlimited graphic design and copywriting
Graphic Design / UX / CRO
Design Pickle – unlimited graphic design by your personal graphic designer
Rocking Book Covers – book covers for authors
Testing.Agency – design and development for your a/b-tests
Correlation – Monthly Creative Direction for Software Companies
Website Rescues – CRO website redesign
Undullify – unlimited monthly graphic design jobs
PPC Landing Pages – PPC conversion focussed landing pages done for you
Penji – Unlimited graphic designs, one flat monthly rate
Limitless Designs – Get a dedicated graphic designer for less than $10/day
WP Curve – ‘service as a service’ wordpress support [update: not sure if signing up new clients after being acquired by Godaddy)
WP Theory – Your website launched in a day
Cloudoptimus – Ultra SecureStupid Fast WordPress Hosting for Professional Bloggers
Work Hero – web, design & automation on monthly packages
WP Quickie – small one time WP tasks as a productized service
LightSpeedWP – WordPress speed optimization productized service
Brass Tacks – analytics reporting
Finance / Legal
Bean Ninjas – Xero bookkeeping, financial reporting, and training for digital entrepreneurs and online businesses
Bench – monthly bookeeping products
Pearl Accountants – accountancy as a service
Wealth Enhancers – business & financial advice
Zenkeep – bookeeping as a service startup
Protect Your Passion – helping entrepreneurs build & legally protect their online businesses
Kai Davis – productized coaching services for consultants
Help Flow – done for you live chat as a service
Abroaders – travel hacking agency
Chalet Engine – web design & hosting for ski niche
Tourism Tiger – websites for tour operators
Dr Alexis Shields – online medical consultations
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.
Back then there were simply buy now buttons in the pricing table which connected to paypal.
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.