Got a service offering? Productize by learning how to “put it in a box.”

As entrepreneurs, we often hear that success comes from creative thinking. If we want to rise above the competition, we’ve got to think outside the box.

Innovation and market differentiation are important—and vital for businesses who want to scale. 

But I believe more business owners should actually embrace more ‘inside the box’ thinking.

Here’s why: At Crews Consulting Group, many of our companies are service-based companies (a mix of B2B and B2C markets). 

One of the biggest problems I see with service based companies is that their offers are confusing.

Or strictly speaking, they don’t have an offer at all. Instead, what they have is a laundry list of services that they customize for every proposal and potential client. 

The method for putting together these proposals is opaque to the client, and often takes up way too much time for the company. 

Ultimately, services are a harder sell because they don’t deliver a clear outcome. Customers often end up purchasing an expert’s time. But they’re not sure what to expect out of that purchase.

“A confused mind says no” is a classic sales/marketing quote, and it is extremely applicable when you’re trying to sell services.

What’s the solution?

Product-Based Businesses Offer the Answer

You don’t need to look any further than service’s counterpart, the product-based business. 

Compared to service, product is so easy to sell. A customer is paying for a tangible object (or in some cases software) that is easily defined. They know exactly what they’re getting for their investment.

Confusion is replaced by clarity.

Enter the “service-in-a-box” model.

If you sell services, you need to productize.

In other words, you need to build an offer that you can put in a box.

Example: How to productize finance services

CCG has a full-stack finance team that works with businesses to clean up and run their finance functions. As an outsourced finance company, we’re one of many, many, (many) options.

How do we differentiate? We’re building out a proven process and set of finance tools that are at the heart of our finance service. All of our clients will run on this process and use these tools, in addition to any other outsourced services we may provide them.

Suddenly, we’re not every other finance company. We’re a finance company with a defined set of deliverables that is guaranteed to help entrepreneurs understand their numbers and use their finances to drive their companies.

Finance is just one example of a service that can be productized. You could have consulting in a box, content in a box, sales in a box—even HVAC in a box. With some strategic thinking, almost anything is possible.

The part where I say controversial things

  1. Entrepreneurs like “in a box” offers. Especially important if your audience is other business owners—entrepreneurs like to buy “fixes” to their problems. They want to be presented with a simple solution that will meet their needs. 

That’s not a knock on entrepreneurs; it’s just a reality. Business owners have too many other demands to understand (or deeply care about) the complexity behind why you do what you do. They want to understand the solution on a simple level and have a clear deliverable they can measure success against. And that’s it.

  1. Your service is probably not a special snowflake. You may think your services are the exception to this rule, and that there’s no way to put what you do into a productized offer. But 95% of the time, you just need some help reframing what you’re selling.

I’ve given this advice to people who write blog posts, build advertising funnels, and teach high schoolers how to get into college. Almost anything can be put “in a box” if you look at it the right way.

  1. Productizing your services does not mean dumbing them down. I can get myself into trouble when I talk about “in a box offers” without qualifying intention. You can imagine how much our super-sharp CFOs love it when I tell them that their whole offering boils down to presenting a handful of reports. 

Your product should be simple and repeatable, but the level of service that underlies it should not change at all. There’s extremely complicated financial modeling that goes into our ‘business owner-friendly’ reporting. And that expertise is vital to our operation. It’s just not the thing that we’re selling. Put another way, I always assume quality.

Our team loves looking at business models and figuring out how to productize service-based companies. Contact us to see how we can develop your company’s “in a box” offering.

All the best,

Eric Crews
President & Founder
Crews Consulting Group

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Skimmed it? Here’s the recap:
–Have a service-based business? You need a way to productize your offering.
–Putting what you do “in a box” makes it easier to develop proposals, set clear expectations for delivery, and SELL YOUR STUFF.
–Almost any service can be put into a box, and entrepreneurs love buying productized offerings.
–You don’t need to (and shouldn’t) dumb down the level of expertise that goes into your work—just simplify the packaging.