I sell a service, so sometimes when I see people struggling to sell their products I think, "Really? Your merchandise is on display. It's hard to put a "service" on the shelf." But hard does not mean impossible. Take companies like Progressive. Now, they may or may not be your insurance company, but they had a challenge: How to turn a service into a product.
How'd they do it? Bundling. "Flo" now comes with a talking box, and the company has a device one can plug into their car to calculate usage.
Products sell services.
It's that simple.
Since business coaching is a relatively new concept, we took a service and turned into a product in the form of CDs, E-books, and You Tube videos. These products provide valuable tools for business owners and not only introduce them to our services, but show them ways that business coaching can benefit their companies.
So, what about you? What's your service? Auto Mechanics? Stylist? Masseuse? Consulting? Painting? Designing? Sports? Teaching? CPA? Banker? Domestic Engineer? Media? Power? Health? Motorcycle maintenance?
What would your service look like as a product? Brainstorm with your team. I'll leave you with a few ideas in a moment, but first, to make an idea like turning your service into a product viable, you will want to work on changing your mind set.
Start with a closed mind and you might as well go back to getting a paycheck and working for someone else, rather than owning your own business. Some key things to consider when you start on this new journey, is to let go of the blame game. Sure, you'll make mistakes, but you'll gain knowledge! Business is hard work, but it should also be fun! Seriously, if you're not enjoying what you're doing, why keep doing it? No amount of money is worth that much agony. So, make it fun.
And one way to make it fun is to think of new ideas. A photographer may take 4000 photographs before "the one" emerges that wins him or her recognition. And, yeah. You might go through a lot of ideas, but when one hits the bullseye, you'll forget all the growing pains. Trust me.
Okay, so let's have some fun. To start, let's select a few of the services listed above and brainstorm on how those services could be turned into products.
1. Auto Mechanic. While many new cars start with a button, most still use a key. So, let's focus on that key. What product can you develop that contains a key? Oh, I know. A KEY! Okay, so how can you market a key and get people to come in for auto maintenance? Some car dealerships send keys out for people to come in and try to win a car, but frankly, most people I know don't bite. The keys don't even feel real. But your key can have a real lock and a key purpose. What if the keys fit into locks you've set up and labeled that highlight certain services: oil change, alignment, BOGO free tire…whatever you decide. Potential customers get the key. They come in. They try the key. It turns a lock. That service is free - or greatly discounted. Your print material can contain "key tips" with the keys as bullets. I think you get the idea.
2. Masseuse. I had a massage a while back that included hot rocks and a rubdown that was like no other. What if your "product" is a small rock? Flat. Lightweight. Maybe with a message carved in it (Peace, Tranquility, Abundance, Joy). Think they'll just throw it away? I don't. Your slogan might be "A pebble of peace awaits you. Bring yours in for a 20% discount on your next massage." They bring in the pebble, recycling your campaign, and you get new customers!
3. CPA. Wow, you guys are a tough nut to crack. Who likes taxes? Not too many people that I know do, but a good CPA is like an effective headache remedy. Why not create a medicine bottle "For Those Taxing Headaches." Of course, it would contain candy "pills", but it would also include a tax tip, a discount, or how about a penny? "Bring this in for a "penny for our thoughts" on how to get you a well-deserved tax return."
How fun is this? But fun isn't good enough. It has to work. And this is a great time to try campaigns like these because the stressed economy has meant a real cutback in direct mail. People like to get gifts, so give them some! But make them relevant to your industry.
Want a couple more:
4. Designer. Send them a magnetic picture frame that's light, flat - something they can hang on their fridge, with a card that reads, "Picture yourself happy." What will that design or remodel mean to them? Make them "see" it.
5. Domestic Engineer. You clean houses. What product can possibly sell that service? How about a rag? Seriously. A square of cotton with clever slogans like: "I could have been on vacation," or "Let's get messy," or "Quit ragging on me" with your custom logo and phone number. People always need rags, and yours will remind them of how they could be doing something else if only they'd hired YOU for their service needs!
Okay. Now it's your turn. What's your service? What product comes to mind? How can you tie in a slogan with your product?
Remember these important "E"s.
* Educate your public about your service (e-book, report, CD, video, etc.)
* Entertain your potential customer (key, pill box, photo frame, rag)
* Earn their trust (professional logo design recognition, quality service, added value)
In the end, you'll earn more than trust. You'll earn double, if not more, of what you were making before by having both a product and service to sell.
Remember, good products sell services. Good service sells products. Now, that's a winning combination if I ever saw one.