How to productize services 3: make a one-pager

Here’s some specific, step-by-step advice on how to create a free product, which is a content marketing asset

Yesterday, I promised to touch on the content marketing dimension to the productization of services. To create things like cheat sheets, guides, checklists, and other “portable” and reusable documents. I think of this as “slideshow” content. In that respect, it has to be a little more impactful than just a good article or blog post.

It has to pass this test – is at least good enough to put up on a slide projector for a roomful of people to examine for 15 minutes? In that context, is it helpful?

This became a popular type of B2B marketing over the past 5 years, with mixed results. Some do it well. For example, digital consulting firms like Hinge and Backlinko and SaaS firms like Hubspot and WordStream make extremely valuable content products. And the production of new content marketing products is a part of a continuous content strategy.

To some degree (probably not to that degree), you should do the same. But focus more on value created than on quantity. You can, in theory at least, build a content marketing strategy on only one amazing piece of content per year; this is how some authors function.

I, for example, have done this by compressing my “mirroring” advice on how to respond to difficult business emails into a 2-page guide.

Starting point. As with everything in marketing, the starting point is the problem. Once you have that defined (here is a good place to look for one), evaluate what types of customers have this problem using our old friend, the ideation worksheet to productizing solutions.

Here (in the bottom quadrant), you are asking yourself, “Of all the potential customers who suffer this problem, what’s the group that suffers it the least (Low pain) and also has the least buying power?”

Because that group – at a given point in time – is more interested in the free product you’ll create than in the more expensive solutions, like fancier products, customized products, or custom services.

Don’t think of these groupings as permanent.

Your low-pain/low-buying-power prospect group is subject to the law that things change fast in our economy. But you have the chance right now, so to speak, to give them something that helps. Perhaps that will come back around in the future.

By the way, people use these things as email opt-in or lead capture devices (“lead magnets”). Not necessarily a bad thing, but your baseline goal here is to give away something for free.

Once you have identified the problem, the group, and have an idea for how to help with information, the next step is to write an email to one of those people with your information. Your goal is to transform the recipient of the email in some way, and you should describe the end results of that transformation. For example, “you write perfect replies to important business emails”.

Ending point. That email will form the corpus of your free content product but you’ll have to cut it way down to make it work as a one-pager guide or checklist. Entire books have been written on presenting slideshows, but here’s the main idea: few words as possible and plenty of white space.

If you’re not a visual designer, consider hiring one to maximize the helpfulness of the product: this can make it easier to read, easier to remember, and easier to take action on the advice you package into the product.

Probably everyone on this list should have at least one of these – if you make one, reply to this email when you are done and let me take a look!!

– Rowan