Services – you can’t see them, you can’t touch them and you can’t take them out of a box for a demonstration. Yet all of this is what you must do in order to show your customers they’re worth buying.
The intangible nature of services makes it challenging to scale them, which in turn makes it difficult to show how the types of services you offer can improve your customer’s bottom line. And from the buyer’s perspective, engaging service vendors can be seen as a buying risk if they never really know what they're buying until after the service has been delivered.
So, how can businesses be clearer in illustrating their value (and avoid negotiating on price!) when marketing their services? The answer is to make the intangible tangible by productizing your services — in other words, pre-package a service (or combination of services) at a fixed price so it’s communicated like a product.
Below we have outlined three tips you can act on in order to quickly package and market your professional services.
Tips for marketing professional services:
A few things you can productize fairly quickly are your existing, run-of-the-mill processes. To do this, break each process down into individual steps. Create a detailed project plan, identify decision points, formalize your deliverables from each step and compile it into a branded package. This shows prospects you know what you’re doing and you follow a logical approach. It increases the perception that you are established, professional, and capable.
Take Rapport International, for example. The translation and interpretation agency has broken down their processes (see their step-by-step translations process) in a way that enables buyers to envision exactly what they’ll get out of their engagement.
The common thread running through these ideas is the need to present all of the value you deliver. Don’t assume that your customers understand everything you do for them. You need to pull out every piece of value you provide over the course of a project and directly present that to the client. Not only will you create a clear differentiation from your competition, but you’ll also give your prospect all the information he/she needs to make the decision to buy from you.
This technique works for a service that includes several options and sells at varying price points. Make it simple for someone to buy by offering service packages that meet the different price requirements. Sometimes you’ll see these presented as Gold, Silver, and Bronze levels that provide clients with price and service options – but please, be a little more creative with your package names.
Ekata, which provides global identity verification via APIs and a SaaS solution, lays out exactly what buyers can expect when purchasing their Basic Monitor, Essential Advise, and Enterprise Complete service packages.
Another advantage of packaging these services offering levels is that you can publish the price points on your website and use that information as a qualification tool. This will weed out the tire kickers who are looking for “everything for nothing.” Two important points: These options cannot affect the quality of a service, nor can you offer different prices for the same service. These levels must represent differences in the actual deliverables and the total value.
When your offerings start to look like commodities, reposition them by creating a new service. This approach may involve taking several services and combining them into one offering, or it may combine your services with one delivered by a partner to create a more robust, valuable offering.
SMBHD, which specializes in Managed IT Services, Infrastructure and IT Consulting, and Salesforce/Pardot Consulting, enables customers to mix and match A La Carte options with their existing Support Plans and Packages.
By productizing your services, you will make it easier for a prospect to understand why they should buy from you. After all, isn't your goal to make your services easier to buy?
Productizing services creates a distinct advantage over other service providers and enhances your overall service profitability. Whether you have a service business or you sell services as part of a product offering, think like a product manager and watch your sales effort plummet as your profits soar.
Susan LaPlante-Dube created PMG in 2002 and acts as one of PMG’s Principals. As a jack-of-all-trades in marketing, she loves digging deep on a topic and finding new ways to spin old ideas. While she would prefer having some high-tech voice software to record all of her blog thoughts instead of having to write them down, she loves the satisfaction of helping her readers learn something new.