As more people turn away from corporate jobs to creating service businesses, you need to find more ways to compete successfully. One way to do that is by packaging your services. Not only will you be able to market more easily, but it may make you more profitable. Customers will have a better understanding of what you offer, and they'll value it more highly. Plus, it can make it easier for you to deliver and get paid faster. Here are the many reasons why packaging is essential for your business' survival.
Selling a Service is Not Like Selling Vacuum Cleaners
Marketing intangible services requires a different approach than for tangible goods. You need to provide evidence that your services can be delivered with some reliability, since intangible means a buyer can’t see, touch or try before they buy. This “proof” may come in many forms:
Why You Should Turn Your Service into a Product
Beyond the evidence noted above, give your services “characteristics” of a product to make them seem tangible.
Avoid selling hours. If you're always selling your time, you'll never grow beyond your own capacity or have the ability to scale. Build value into a package of services that take less time to deliver, but result in more perceived value. Hours are also really tough to track, especially when ideas can strike you at any time (um, in the shower?) — you should be compensated for those. Clients also don't like the idea of a bottomless pit of hours, especially when they don't understand how long something will take.
Make your services easier to buy
People love neat and tidy solutions, like kits and systems. They often don't understand what they're buying from you, and if you focus on what you're delivering, rather than a myriad of details, it's easier for clients to "acquire" what you're selling. Plus, it may also reduce the need for negotiations. Of course, if they want those details, you'll need to be ready to supply them.
Differentiate your services
How you package your services is another way to help you stand out from your competition. This may work especially well if you can create a package that uniquely suits your particular target audience.
You can't always guarantee an outcome
When you're offering a specific service, it's almost impossible to guarantee that someone's business will be more profitable. There are often too many variables that are outside your control. For example, in marketing, if a client's product isn't market-ready, all the advertising in the world isn't going to work. But with a package, you can guarantee that you will deliver the services you're selling. If you can also make the case that a package of services has worked for other clients, that lends credence to it.
Save time writing proposals
This one is huge for me. I'd rather spend my time working with clients than doing what feels administrative. When you offer fixed prices for a set of services, it's just so much simpler to put together a bid.
Spend a lot less time explaining your services
When you create fixed packages, you can write up the benefits, which will make them easier to market and you won't have to repeat yourself. Plus, you can provide checklists, tip sheets, and other materials that support the package. This will lead to an increase in perceived value and tangibility of your services.
Reduce scope creep
A fixed set of services means everyone knows what to expect for a set price. Everyone is on the same page. It will become clear if anything is added or changed, which will help you justify an additional charge.
Get referred more often
Packages may even help you get referred, because people will have a clear understanding of what you offer.
Deliver services consistently to increase your margins
Packaging helps you streamline your operations. You'll become more efficient at repeating a process over and over. When you get really good at nailing down your process, you can start to hire less expensive people to help you deliver it with less oversight, which leads to higher margins (booyah!).
Start with a Baseline Service Package
You don't have to package everything at once. Start by bundling together a few tasks you're always doing for clients. Give it a good name. Price it. Write up what the package includes and then describe the benefits and highlight the value your client will derive from it. Practice your sales pitch, remembering to say how well it has worked for clients in the past. Post it on your website and offer it during sales calls. You'll be amazed at how much simpler, and profitable, your work will become.
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“Why should I buy from you?” is on every prospect's mind. To answer that question, you need to understand what makes your business different from your competition — in a way that’s meaningful to prospects. These differentiators are components of a successful brand. You may even be able to charge more because of that edge.
Red Block Analysis
The Red Block Analysis is a marketing research hack we created to help our clients take a marketing point of view, which is the ability to see a business through the target audience’s eyes.
1. Find Your Competitors
The first step involves generating a list of close competitors to measure your business against.
Tip: Log out of your Google account or search “Incognito” (an option in the Chrome browser), so the search isn’t biased by Google knowing who you are or your search history. The locations of the businesses may still be related to the location of your IP address, however. Make sure it's within your service area.
2. Create a Competitive Chart
Visit each site and create a competitive chart of what each offers; you may want to use spreadsheet software for this.
3. Perform a Gap Analysis
4. Don't Stop There
If you’ve been keeping current with trends in your market, you may discover opportunities for new services to offer. Add these to the list. Don’t rely on competitors to think of everything. If you can be first at something, or ride the wave of a trend, that may be just what you should focus on to build differentiation into your service offering.
Business Differentiation is Relative
Understanding your prospect and how they view your business in the midst of competition is essential to standing out in a crowded marketplace. A Red Block Analysis can help you find ways to differentiate your services in ways that are meaningful to prospects. If you can communicate these differences clearly, your marketing efforts are going to be more effective. You'll be the business chosen more often and ultimately you’ll earn more, contributing to the long term growth of your business.
When hunting around for business services, people often want to know the price. As a service provider yourself, you know how difficult it can be to price your services, let alone know if you should make them public. There's always the fear of turning people off. Or, you'll reveal too much to the competition. To many people, just like wine, price can be an indicator of quality too. So I can understand why you may be cautious.
Not showing any information about what you charge can scare people off. Publishing some kind of price, that is, being transparent, can help create trust. It can alleviate some of the concerns that someone may have about calling you. At least enough for them to pick up the phone.
Services Packaging Makes Perfect
I haven't always published prices on my website, and I don't publish my hourly rate. As I teach in my services businesses classes, it's a good idea to get away from selling yourself by the hour, because it makes it hard to scale. Here's why you should package your services:
Another Good Reason to Publish Your Prices — Search
According to this Moz Blog article about website mistakes to avoid, "people are searching for pricing information. It’s a huge missed opportunity not to have any content related to pricing, and it annoys prospective customers who would rather know your cost range before giving you a call or submitting a form for follow up."
Instead of Publishing an Hourly Rate, Try These Ideas.
You could publish your prices outright or you could hedge. Something like, "Call me for a free :30 minute consultation, and I'll evaluate your needs and costs." There's no one right way to answer this question — just like everything in marketing, right? Consider what fits with your business model and what you feel is going to resonate with your visitors.
If publishing your prices makes you uncomfortable, you could try one of these or a combination:
Whatever pricing model you choose, tread appropriately, knowing you could alienate some potential customers. That's okay, because not everyone is or should be your customer. If you've made a good case for your services, and priced them competitively, and they're still turned off, then they're not a good customer for you. The same holds true for competition — you don't want to rely on price to get more business.
No matter what you decide to say on your website, the better you know your website visitor — and the more you're in their heads, that is, the more you know their psych — the better you can communicate with them to achieve your objectives.