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Consultant’s Guide to Productization: How To Productize Consulting Services

Productization is a hot topic today.

What could be better than packaging your consulting services into products?

No proposals. Minimal negotiations. A streamlined, predictable process.

Sounds good, right?

Yes — but that’s not the complete story.

Productizing your consulting services can be an incredibly profitable move. It can help you scale your consulting business.

It can be your ticket to creating a consulting business you can sell.

But productization doesn’t come without risk. Risk that I’ve experienced firsthand. Risks that you’ll learn about (and how to navigate around) in this article.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:

Creating a successful productized offer is an exercise in removing the non-essential.

The more focus you can deliberately create into your productized service, the higher the chance of it succeeding.

This article will help you discover, refine, and validate your own productized consulting service — helping you build more profitability and predictability into your consulting business.

What Is Productization (And Why It Matters To Your Consulting Business)

Think about your average consulting service.

Most consulting services involve you working closely with a buyer, creating a custom solution or solving a problem.

Every part of the engagement, from the sale to the delivery, is custom to the client.

Productization is the opposite approach.

Instead of creating a unique solution for each buyer, you create the same solution applicable to all of your buyers.

Instead of an intricate, custom service — you rely on the same process.

This process — or series of steps — delivers the same outcome for each client.

Think of it this way:

difference between a product and a service

difference between a product and a service part 2

Productized consulting straddles the middle between a “Product” and a “Service,” borrowing elements of both.

Just like a product, productized consulting…

  • Solves a pain in a repeatable way
  • Is easier to market
  • Involves more control over quality

And just like services, productized consulting also…

  • Revolves around an activity or process
  • Can be started with less capital
  • Produces the service through the interaction

When you create a productized service, you’re not creating a unique solution for each buyer.

That said, you are able to market your solution as unique to each buyer in sales conversations because unlike a product, you are working with the client. You’re just using the same process for each client.

Your productized offer process is what helps you scale your consulting business.

Scaling a consulting business is impossible when you’re spending too much time working one on one with clients. Because you’re working “hands-on” with the client with these types of services, you charge more to make up for the amount of intricacy and attention given to the client.

With a productized offer, there is less time intensity and intimacy involved in the project. That means you’re generally charging less.

That doesn’t mean they are less profitable — but you are not charging the same high fees as you should with your custom consulting engagements.

We recommend pricing your productized offer at between $1.5K and $15K. More on this later.

That’s what productization is — the act of turning your services into products.

Now how do you do this successfully? That’s a whole different ball-game…

The BIG Secret To Successful Productized Services

There’s a big secret to successful consulting productized services that most people aren’t talking about.

And that secret is: focus.

If you allow scope creep to ‘creep’ in, you’ll struggle to have a successful productized offer.

Why?

Because if you stray from your process and your systems, you’ll create a monster.

Without focus in your process, your client profile, and the problem you’re solving, your productized offer itself, will turn into an unprofitable complicated mess.

Everything about your productized service should be stripped down to the essential.

By that, I mean factors like…

  • Who you serve
  • The problem they want to solve
  • The steps you’ll take to solve their problem

When you strip each of these factors down to the bare essentials, you create a productized service that is light, nimble, and highly efficient.

A lean, well-built productized service won’t suck up your time and turn into a customized service.

Of course, you can’t escape the risk of your clients asking you for more customization with the productized service you’re offering.

But just because they ask, doesn’t mean you should say “yes”.

The more you break away from your proven process and system, the more complex your delivery will become — until, drip by drip, all of the benefits of your productized offer are gone.

You must learn to say “no” to your clients when saying “yes” doesn’t make sense for your business and the model you’ve chosen.

Not in a mean or rude way — but in a firm, confident way.

You’re helping them solve their main problem with this service. You’re the expert. Don’t let your client derail you or the project from achieving their goals.

As a consultant, it is your duty to protect the client from their own misunderstandings or assumptions. Delivering a productized service can often feel like an exercise in sticking to the system.

The more focus you can deliberately create into your productized service, the higher the chance of it succeeding.

Live Examples of Profitable Productized Offers

It doesn’t matter what type of consulting you do…

…there are ALWAYS ways to turn your services into a productized offer.

Let’s take a look at four successful and profitable productized offers.

1. WP Curve

Think about your average WordPress website consulting service.

You pay the consultant, and they build your website custom to your needs.

What WP Curve did was itemize what goes into a WordPress consulting service.

They broke down the service into specific tasks that they perform for their customers…

wordpress consulting productization

Through a specific process…

productized consulting offer process

All for simple, predictable pricing plans:

And that’s what makes it an effective productized consulting offer.

They narrowed down their service to the specifics — a common theme among successful productized offers.

2. UI Breakfast

Think about your average UI/UX consulting service.

You pay the consultant, and they provide their advice on how you can improve your website or app’s user interface or user experience.

At UIBreakfast, Jane Portman has built turned her processes into a series of productized consulting offers:

ui/ux productization

She’s narrowed down what her buyers want into 3 or 4 highly specific, easily understandable services to take her clients from point A to B.

By showing clients the price up front, she avoids price haggling, proposals, and qualification.

Clients know how much the service costs before reaching out, so once they do reach out, it’s to finalize the details.

3. Brass Tacks

Think about your average analytics consulting service.

You pay the consultant, and they work with you on your analytics and generate insights for your business based on the data.

With Brass Tacks, Chris Vannoy has broken down the typical engagement into its most fundamental steps (inputs), which he shows the client on his sales page:

analytics consulting process

Furthermore, he also explains the benefits (outcomes) of the above process for a strong pitch:

outcome of consulting product offering

Before the client even reaches out to Chris, they know exactly what they’re getting, what their business will look like after, and exactly how much it costs: $999.

Chris explains all of this on a single web page with less than 800 words. Lean, efficient, focused — just like a successful productized offer.

4. Scribe (formerly Book In A Box)

Think about your average book-writing process.

First, you write the draft. Then, you do a round of editing. After that, you hire an editor. Once that is all done, you find a cover designer. And then, you have to prepare the book for launch.

There are a lot of different steps involved in writing a book — and it involves much more than just writing.

Scribe has taken this entire process and broken it down into 7 steps, which they explain to you in detail on their website:

book writing process

And in order to help you achieve the end result (a published book), they offer a few pricing options to help you get there:

productized consulting offer pricing plans

After these 4 examples, you should start to see some patterns.

Consultants take an existing service offering, break it down into its core components, put a price on it, and sell it as a productized service offering.

That’s the essence of a productized consulting service.

What can you take away from these examples?

Which of your services could you break down into a process and sell on your consulting website?

It’s important to understand that in these examples, the consultants have not removed the elements of service. Instead, they are focusing on the most essential aspects of service.

Now that you know how other consultants do it, there is nothing holding you back from doing it in your own business.

Let’s dive deeper into how you can price your productized services for success.

The Best Productized Structure For Consultants

There are two types of productized offer structures: one-time and recurring.

One-Time

One-time productized offers are one-and-done. You provide the service for the client, and then send them on their way.

Brass Tacks is an example of a One-Time productized service. They perform the audit and the productized service is complete.

Audits, reviews, consultations — all of these are examples of one-time productized consulting offers. They are very structured with no customization if they are true productized services.

Recurring

Recurring productized offers are ongoing. You provide the services for as long as the client needs it.

WP Curve is an example of a Recurring productized service. You pay a monthly fee, and they offer the service to you as long as you’re on.

Coaching, recordings, group sessions, retainers — all of these can fit within the realm of recurring productized offers. The key with productized offers is to provide ongoing value.

To get the best of both worlds, you want to create a synergy between both types of productized service structures.

You win the initial business with a one-time productized service (in this case, a Discovery offer), which leads to a larger engagement.

Here’s an example:

You do an audit on your client’s call-center technology.

This audit is productized and systematized and results in a scorecard for the client. At the end of the scorecard comes recommendations for the client to improve their score.

Now, the client needs to implement your recommendations.

Who does it make sense for them to hire?

Most likely, they’ll end up hiring you — especially if you have an offer that supports their implementation or does it for them.

You’ve delivered for them once, you’ve established a relationship with them, and you have provided them with your recommendations.

This is how you set-up your larger projects which can be productized as well.

Developing A Bulletproof Productized Offer Concept

Let’s figure out how to create your own productized offer concept.

By concept, I do not mean creating your product.

The last thing you want to do is focus on your product right now — and I’ll tell you my own story which explains why in the next section.

You must develop your concept first — what your productized offer might look like based on what your clients actually need.

It starts with identifying the problem that you are solving — a problem that your clients want to solve the most.

You start by identifying the problem that your clients want to be solved the most. Start from the end, and work backward.

You’re productized offer sells them on the output.

When it’s all done, what will life look like for them? How have you improved their condition?

Write down some of your ideas as to what this problem might be.

Now, think back to your clients and “mine” them for these ideas:

  • What do people most often ask you about?
  • What do clients request your help for most?
  • Looking back on your projects, what have the outcomes been for the clients you’ve worked with? How has your expertise changed their condition?

It’s helpful to look back to your email conversations with clients and find the actual language they use. You want to base your productized offer and what they are telling you — not just based on what you think.

Once you’ve nailed down some ideas for the problem your productized offer will solve, think about how to put it all together:

  • How could you provide the client’s desired result faster?
  • What elements of service would you have to cut out to shrink the process of getting them from A to B?
  • How could you do this in a way where you’d enjoy the work, repeatedly?

When you can align a real client problem with an efficient, profitable method of delivery, you have a strong offer concept.

That doesn’t mean that if you put it out into the marketplace your clients are instantly going to buy it.

You’re still at the hypothesis stage. Now, it’s time to go out and test your concept through validation.

How to Validate Your Concept (And Know Clients Will Pay For It)

Let me tell you a story about why validating your concept is so important.

Back in my early days, Sam and I invested $20K in a business idea we thought would change the world.

It turned out that we were building something that people didn’t want.

We spent all of this money creating all of these features…

…but most of our market didn’t really care about what we were building.

How did we learn this?

We didn’t know what our market wanted until we started talking to them. We began getting feedback from the marketplace.

Validating your concept in any entrepreneurial context is critical. Most of you know that you should validate and gather feedback before you put something out into the marketplace.

But people still don’t do it.

Validation your productized offer is one of those steps you must check off before you begin putting together your productized service. It’s that important.

In this section, we’ll go over how you validate your productized offer concept.

[NOTE: We’re validating your concept, not your product. You should validate before you start building anything. If you’re trying to validate after you build your product, you’ve done it backward]

Your main goal with validation is approaching your ideal clients with a simple question:

“Here is what I’m thinking. Is there any interest in this?”

There are many different ways you can approach ideal clients with this question.

  • On your social media accounts
  • Via your email list
  • Directly
  • In person or through connections
  • Paid traffic to a landing page

No matter which method you use, your goal remains the same:

  • To confirm that a market exists, and to acquire the correct language to tailor your offering and optimize your messaging.
  • To tailor your offering to include exactly what your buyers want most.

This is the essence of validating your productized offer concept.

Go out and speak to 10 ideal clients and share their ideas with you. Ask them for their honest feedback.

When they do give you their feedback, take notes on the language they use. Ask “why” so you can tap into what they mean underneath a surface-level answer.

[QUICK TIP: Open up Amazon and look for books in your industry. Scroll down to the reviews. There, you’ll find specific language and phrases you can use in your copy when you market and sell your productized service. Using their language back at them ensures that your messaging will resonate.]

Here’s a sample email script you can use to set up meetings with ideal clients and validate your offer:

Hi NAME,

I’m speaking with leaders in INDUSTRY about TOPIC and would like to feature you as well.

You have a pretty amazing track-record in INDUSTRY.

Do you have 10 minutes tomorrow morning or afternoon that I can give you a quick call?

Industry leaders and your ideal clients might be hard to sell directly — but you’ll be surprised at how receptive they are to simply talking business.

They love to appear as and feel like an expert, and featuring someone gives them this opportunity — all while you get to validate your offer.

It’s a win-win scenario. Both parties gain value.

Sam and I used the exact strategy in this lesson to adjust our offering into a successful product — a product that we later sold.

Luckily for you, you don’t have to spend $20K to learn this important lesson. You’ll validate before going to market and make sure you’re offering something that your clients want.

Want To Create Your Own Productized Service With Expert Guidance?

If you’ve read thus far, you’re excited about the possibility of introducing a productized offer to your business.

You have a bunch of ideas in your head of how productized consulting can help you reach your financial goals.

But you also know the risks involved. You know that it’s very difficult to get it right the first time.

You’d like help from consultants who have done this before and can help you create a productized service that your clients can’t resist.

If you’re serious about scaling up your business and creating a productized offer that weaves seamlessly into your core offerings, our coaching program is for you.

Inside, we’ll teach you how to…

  • Market and sell your productized offer with confidence, helping you win new business faster and more profitably
  • Automate and systematize parts of your productized offer using so you can earn more while doing less work
  • Model your own productized offer ideas after existing successful offers — and connect with the consultants also in our coaching community who offer them

Many consultants in our program have taken interest in the fact that I’ve built a million dollar consulting business — all while traveling the world with my family.

We use many elements of productization in this business you’re reading about now.

And when you join our coaching program, not only do you gain access to all of our expertise — but we’ll guide you through our process to a successful productized offer.

Check out our coaching program page (full of stories from consultants just like you) to learn more.

THE ELITE COACHING PROGRAM
FOR
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Develop a predictable
pipeline of clients.
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10 thoughts on “Consultant’s Guide to Productization: How To Productize Consulting Services

  1. Peter Johnson says:

    Its is not easy task for consultancy to recruit good guy who fulfill their client requirement in criteria. They use social media, local marketing to find right person for the right job.

    • You’re right Peter. It’s not always easy to find good staff or team members to grow, but they are out there. Productizing your service will help to streamline and make your delivery more efficient.

  2. Great article, A lot of value ideas to go and sell your consultant services, thanks Michael!

  3. Keystone business advisors says:

    Hi Michael Zipursky, thanks for sharing this blog. This was very useful in many ways and learnt lot on why the productization is mattered in consulting business and its secret to make it a successful and productive with live examples.

  4. Sarah R says:

    Thank you! This is such a helpful article about productized services.

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