Strategic products and services can help your business take off if you take the time to study your audience and your market. But when and how in the process should you define & create your products and services ? Let’s find out!
hello, I’m your host Kaycinho, I’m a digital alchemist, and this episode, is episode number one of a module dedicated to the action phase of starting your business. So for the full module I invite you to check this playlist.
And by the way, this module is the fourth module of a course dedicated to take you from the burning desire to become your own boss to actually launching your business.
So if you want access to the full course (videos will be added until the course is complete) by clicking here.
Now back to our topic!
Strategic products and services
By strategic products and services, what I really mean is products and services that match your current market and audience.
This way you are offering something your audience is already searching for instead of just offering a bunch of products and services and hoping someone takes the bait.
Now, as just mentioned, this episode is part of a course helping you get started into becoming your own boss, and to be honest, in the timeline I could have placed this episode before the module dedicated to the “Creation phase”.
The truth is that it really depends on your specific project, and most likely this is a process that goes on throughout the timespan from decision to launch.
So I thought that placing this episode just before the actual Launch would come as a handy reminder.
Now, there are so many business ideas and business opportunities that it is impossible to give a universal blueprint that would work for any business.
But if you’ve been around, you know that I focus on creative entrepreneurs as well as entrepreneurs that want to leverage the power of digital and online marketing to brand, grow and market their business.
In this episode
So in this episode, I’ll focus on examples that match those categories. But of course, if you’re in a different industry you can still apply the main principles to your specific business.
If you’ve followed along this course, in a previous episode, we’ve discussed about your business and marketing plans, and in that episode, I recommended a few resources. Among those resources are the “100$ Startup” by Chris Guillebeau and the “One Page Marketing Plan” by Allan Dib.
And if you’ve followed my advice and read these books, you should already have a solid plan about your products and / or services.
That being said, in this episode, we’re going to look at my very own subjective perspective regarding the topic and as you know I like to make it easier to understand by giving examples, so we’ll break it down as follows :
- first we’ll look at the perspective of freelancer selling his website building services for small businesses
- and then we’ll look at the perspective of a new small business owner that wants to sell digital products
Let’s dive in!
Strategic products and services case 1 : freelancing
So, let’s say you’re a new web designer or a web developer, and you want to start flying on your own and sell your website creation services.
So how do you craft your services? Easy right? Not quite so at the beginning, at least in my experience.
Strategic products and services for freelancers: what everybody does
So if you want to sell website creation services as a one-person operation, you probably want to deliver an all-in-one experience for your customers.
So for example, you’d take your customers from idea and brief to the delivery of a full-blown website, design and development included.
Now whether you do it all yourself or outsource partially, is another story which, luckily for you, I’ve covered in a previous video.
But whatever the means, the end result is a website, design and development included.
That’s precisely how I got started, having the skills for web design and front-end development, as well as using the WordPress platform and page builders like Divi and Elementor to speed up things and optimize my time.
So in this case, your clients would be B2B as in business-to-business, and probably mainly a direct relationship between your business, and the company that want their website done.
However you could also get work from agencies, that would subcontract to you.
What many people in your situation do is to create “as from” packages.
Now to be honest, I almost never sold packages because I don’t really like packages, but when you’re fresh in the game, with no experience, and a small portfolio, it can definitely help potential clients assess whether you’re in their budget league or not.
Now why do I dislike packages? The first reason is that personally I think it can send the wrong signal, especially if you are not competing on price, because you may end up attracting customers that are looking for the cheapest prices and not for the quality you can offer.
The second reason is that experience has taught me that every project, even the smallest one, is different, but at least it was starting point.
So in the specific case of a website creation freelancing business , you could create packages such as:
- small business presentation website of 4 pages
- small business presentation website of 8 pages
- e-commerce website of 10 pages + 10 products
And so on.
Now if you just throw generic packages, there is nothing strategic about that.
Strategic products and services for freelancers: what you could do differently
If you want to be strategic about it though, here is what you could do:
- 1. Look at your local business environment: who are your competitors, what industry are they focusing on, and most of all, which industry could you approach? For example you may notice that in your area, most law firm websites look old and obsolete.
- Do you research online, try to understand what are the main challenges when creating law firm websites, the look for and bookmark the best looking law firm websites, and create tailor made packages that answer the main challenges you initially identified for that niche
- Find who you could partner with? Following up on my example, try to find businesses that already have law firms as clients and that could recommend your services. For example, try to network with small businesses that offer IT Maintenance for law firms and present them tailor-made packages that they could sell to their existing law firm clients, and make a commission on top
I could go on and on, but you see the pattern here. Do your research, identify opportunities, then niche down and create tailor-made packages.
Strategic products and services: stop the race to the bottom
So back to our example, packages could help if you are just starting out, but once you’ve gained more experience, you could use the same principles to directly pitch law firms, and give them “as from” price points if they ask you to give them a hint, without ever mentioning the word package though.
Once again it could just be a starting point to help trigger the conversation and allow both parties to assess whether you’re made to work together.
Now in this episode I won’t discuss about pricing specifics because the next episode is precisely about that, so make sure, you stay tuned and watch/read both episodes to get a clear picture, but I personally don’t advise the race to the bottom.
I know it works well for some people, but it just does not fit my vision.
Strategic products and services: beware of overwhelm
Now being a one person-operation doesn’t mean you should do everything for everybody, and one thing I would not advise doing, even if you are a generalist, is to offer the whole panel of services a web agency could offer.
I did such as mistake, and when I was getting started, I offered graphic design, web design, web development, seo, content creation, I was even designing flyers and presentation folders for print!
The result when you do that is guaranteed stress and less interesting gigs. Of course the customers are happy because they get to get everything from the same source, and usually at a good price too.
But the downside is that when getting started it is hard to assess to time required for a gig before you actually do it, so nine times out of ten you end up underestimating the hours, and thus, at the end you realize you’ve worked for mere peanuts.
Plus you’ve been stressed all along because maybe it’s taken you 5 hours to figure something in Indesign, because face it: you are NOT a graphic designer for print, even though you are really good at designing stuff.
So you learn the software to get better at it, which is good, but in the meantime, you are not working on your actual projects that pay, or on your administrative tasks, or on getting new leads and perfecting your marketing.
What I mean is: it’s good to learn new stuff, but if you want to launch a profitable freelancing business, focus on what you can do well first!
A word about packages
Depending on your pricing strategy, you may or may not want to show package prices, or even the packages themselves on your website, but whatever you choose, you should be able to easily deliver the information to your potential customers.
Also, if you also want to do custom work outside of your packages, you should ALWAYS mention the fact that you also do custom work so that potential customers with a large enough budget won’t feel like they are limited by the two or three packages you offer.
And finally, to answer the question “When should you define and create your services?“, in our example, obviously it is an ongoing process but the key moment would be to define the services you would offer when crafting your simple business plan.
So that was for our first case.
Strategic products and services case 2: selling digital products
Now let’s move to our second perspective, which is the perspective of a small business owner that wants to sell digital products.
It could be selling online courses, 3D files, wordpress themes, or graphics, and so on.
Strategic products and services: selling products?
Now once again, there are many different opportunities to create products out there, and different strategies must match those different products as well as the market conditions you’re in.
But for the sake of this episode, let’s imagine that you want to create and sell online courses.
So once again, either you have the skills to develop the products yourself, or you could outsource it, but the end result would be the same: you’d sell digital products.
Strategic products and services: creating products based on you
So building up on my example, creating online courses is very popular nowadays, so that’s great because it means that people are used to paying to get online training, but it also means that there is a lot more competition than what it used to.
The first, non-strategic way would be to create a course about a subject that you know or that you are passionate about, hoping that people will like it and buy it.
Now you may get lucky and make a lot of sales, but if you’re in the broader market that is not likely to happen, especially if you don’t have an audience yet.
And to be honest, even if it worked that way, that wouldn’t really be based on a strategy, would it?
Strategic products and services: creating products people actually want
Now what could be a strategy for crafting and selling products that people actually want?For the sake of this episode, let’s build on our previous example.
Let’s imagine you are a freelancer that has gained a lot of experience in branding and online marketing.
And the thing is, you’ve worked with a lot of law firms. So much, that you know what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to marketing their services.
So, instead of creating generic online courses about online marketing, you could focus on creating and selling online courses to help law firms get up to speed with the digital age.
Your end customers may but also may not be the law firms directly. It could be agencies or consultants that target the law firm industry. Now it could also be solo lawyer practitioners that do not want to outsource to an agency or new and small law firms that want to manage their digital assets internally.
Research, research, and research
So once again, the key idea here would be to start with your research: try to understand which challenges law firms are faced with when it comes to the digital age and their online assets. Join private facebook groups, ask questions, try to understand which pain you could cure, or which joy you could bring on the table. Then go craft products that would meet those requirements.
Then, rinse, recycle and repeat with another industry.
Strategic products and services: when should you create your products
When you should create your products? It depends whether you are doing it yourself or if you are outsourcing.
One great strategy I’ve seen people do time and time again is to advertise the product they want to sell before they’ve even started creating it.
It could be a Facebook or Google ad leading to a landing page that would track pre-defined actions.
Now once on the page, potential customers see a message saying that they will will be told when the product is ready if they leave their email address, with a promise for an early-birds discount for example.
If there is enough interest, then it’s time to start the product creation, with the added benefit of already having potential customers when the product will be launched.
If there isn’t enough interest, you’ve saved yourself potentially weeks or even months of hard work for nothing.
The next step is to go back to research mode, craft a new product idea, rinse, recycle and repeat, until you have a winner.
Strategic products and services: your turn!
So, I hope that this video helped you understand the importance of research in creating strategic products and services.
Let me know in the comments!
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So, that’s it for this video, and in the next one we’ll discuss about how to price your products and services.
I hope to see you around here or on the Youtube channel, and in the meantime, don’t forget to invest in YOUR success!