How to productize services 4: transform your business

Use productized services to increase the value of your solutions – and the revenue they generate

To fully hammer productizing services into the ground, I have a final incentive for you to think about doing so. Then at the bottom of the email, I share resources from people who know more about this than me.

The final incentive to productizing services is based on this premise: if you’re not using marketing to improve your solution, you’re missing an opportunity. 

This is the problem with lead or demand((as an aside, it’s can help to think of a lead not as an anonymous person but as a unit of demand)) generation, per se, as a way of thinking about marketing. If you think of marketing as only about improving your leads, you discount the importance of improving your solution (the product, the customized services, the consultative advice, or…. the productized service). ((This is true of all forms of lead generation, even ABM (Account-Based Marketing), which can be intricate, strategic by itself, even elegant, but is usually just a form of outbound lead generation.))

Which should never be part of your MO as a business owner.

Because – Captain Obvious speaking here – by improving the solution, you make it more valuable and can make more money off of it – reduce customer churn, improve your pricing, improve your conversion rate, etc. Or put another way, so you can create more impact with it. So you can change things more profoundly.

Productizing your services is not the only form of marketing that will help you improve your solution. ((The other two are deep content marketing and customer research/surveys. The latter is self-explanatory. By “deep” content marketing, I mean high-frequency and high-regularity publishing of written content)) But it is the quickest shortcut to doing so – if you do it right.


Because productizing your services – such that you package low-friction sales and delivery into the product experience (which is some of what I mean by doing it right) – will make you think differently about how it can help your customers students. ((By the way, Seth Godin has said that if you can’t stand marketing, think of it as education, of yourself as a nerdy teacher, and of your customers as your students)). That’s because in order to facilitate low-friction. low-touch sales and delivery, you have to keep things short and to the point. The 30-page proposal is not the right mindset.

You also have to think really carefully about what people need that your product provides. You can’t put all of your expertise into productized services; not even close.

And unlike purely custom consulting, a productized service will almost never solve as many problems. Just as we expect enterprise software to solve only 80% of customer problems.

So what is the priority problem and how do you build that into your product?

Now you’re selling something that is only ever a partial solution. You have to be OK with that and talk about it as such by being more precise in your thinking about problems it solves.

Those of you who create a product ladder out of your expertise may still sell completely customized one-off solutions at “the top rung of the ladder”. And that’s more than OK. But you’ll think differently about that top rung of your solutions ladder too.

Time for some ASCII artwork!

Think of your solutions as a ladder, with your content marketing at the bottom rung, customized consulting services at the top rung, and products in the middle rungs. 

Et voilà!

|____| top rung $$$$$ – custom services, strategy, expertise
|____| top-middle rung $$$ – full-day training workshop
|____| middle rung $$ – audit and discovery
|____| bottom-middle rung $ – custom training webinar
|____| bottom rung (free) – one-pager product (guide, cheatsheet, etc)
|____| very-bottom rung (free) – other content (blog, newsletter, podcast) (( This is a great mental exercise because it forces to presume that your content marketing has value; it puts pressure on you to make it worth reading and listening to ))

(Beautiful ASCII, right? Thank you, thank you)

Many of you may already provide workshops, audits, discoveries, webinars – and write a blog. But if you make them into products, you will, to underscore the points made above, write about them in a new way. You will name them, you will give them a slogan. You will anoint them with a brand identity.

The ultimate effect of your product messaging and copywriting work is that you will figure out how to solve problems with more precision, create more value, and derive more value for yourself.

This is because how you write about something is how you think about it. ((which is the point George Orwell made in his essay On Politics and the English Language, though I mined it for messaging hacks)). We’re not really knowledge workers. We’re more than that because merely selling knowledge is like the digital version of selling labor. We sell how we think about the knowledge we’ve acquired.

Take action. Get a pen and paper, and draw your on product ladder, keeping your customized services at the top and your one-pager product at the bottom. Refer to some of the earlier emails in this series for tips on how to do so.

As you do so, here are some other good resources to help you with your productization journey:

Productize Course & Community, also by Brian Cassel. I haven’t taken this course myself, but what a good example of Brian’s own expertise.

The Pricing Seminar, with Jonathan Stark. More about pricing but goes in-depth into creating a product ladder – I’d be sure to go into the course knowing what problems you want to solve.

Productize Podcast, with Brian Cassel. Discontinued but the old episodes are still really valuable.

Productized vs Customized Services, with David C Baker and Blair Enns. This episode reveals the counterargument to solely productizing, which is that you can make more money with customized services (and that the latter is always a massive pain in the ass). Again though, I’d suggest a hybrid approach, which will be a little easier if you are building a hybrid services firm.

Have a great weekend,