How to productize consultancy or marketing agency services?

Productization, or turning a service into a product, is a process that helps consultancy businesses and marketing agencies to be more efficient and profitable. It involves taking the core offering of a company and making it repeatable, scalable, and measurable.

Productize by Eisha Tierney Armstrong is a helpful book that I read recently. I would recommend the book to everyone interested in innovation within the professional services industry. First the book discusses 4 stages of productization: customized services, productized services, products and products-as-a-service.

  1. Customized services are one-time or ad-hoc services that are not repeatable. They’re generally designed to meet the specific demands of a customer and can’t be easily replicated. Typically, the consumer pays you by the hour for this service.
  2. Services that are packaged, on the other hand, may be repeated. They have established processes and procedures in place to ensure that they can be supplied regularly and predictably. Consider an SEO audit as an example.
  3. Products that are repeatable and scalable have an even greater potential for success. For example, consider an SEO dashboard.
  4. On top of the ladder we find “Products-as-a-service”. These products are offered as a subscription service, making them easy to access online or through an app. With recurring revenue and consistent customers, this type of product is repeatable, scalable, and measurable. For example: a custom SEO tool.

When moving up the ladder, technology use increases, but so does the utility. The advantages for businesses increase: scaling will become simpler and profits margins will rise as a result of climbing up the product ladder.

We know for many digital marketing activities, a lot of new technology is coming our way and so now it’s time to create new, scalable products.

However, in order to do successfully turn a services business into products, you must avoid making seven mistakes according to the Productize book.

These are the productization mistakes that the author addresses in her book:

  1. Don’t focus on processes instead of people. You should hire people with vision and let them work together across departments. Many creative ideas come from working together. Also, if you let your innovative people work full-time for clients, you can’t expect to move up the productization ladder and invent new products. So hire the right people and give them the freedom to collaborate and invent new things. You need people with product skills in your organization, but you also need to give them freedom.
  2. Don’t start too big. MVP is your friend. Build something that solves a small problem for a customer and then iterate from there.
  3. Don’t focus only on your core business. The solution is to align new products with your core business and try to make a cost/benefit analysis of different ideas. If an idea is not in line with the company’s core business or won’t give you profit, it is probably not worth pursuing. But ideas you can think both are worth pursuing even if they are not.
  4. Don’t design in a vacuum. The best way to come up with product ideas is to listen to your customers and other stakeholders. They are the ones who know what problems they have and what solutions would be helpful for them. Try to get feedback early and quickly test your prototype.
  5. Don’t invest in products that don’t solve a problem. You can define a problem by talking to customers and other stakeholders, doing market research, or using data. You should understand customer needs, customer personas, and the competitive landscape. You should formulate some hypotheses and validate them.
  6. Don’t launch boldly. Think about the new value the product will offer it and communicate boldly. Make different pricing and packages. Find a complimentary product or service which you can use to upsell your new product.
  7. Don’t stop at the MVP. Always listen to the feedback, measure how your product is performing, and keep improving your product.

By avoiding these pitfalls, your product launch will be more successful.

Any questions or ideas? Contact me on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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