Is your design agency or development company finding it challenging to grow, scale and maintain healthy profit margins? There’s a smarter, more efficient way to sell your services, get more customers, and grow your business.
Today, an increasing number of highly talented entrepreneurs are leaving their jobs to start creative and technology-based service businesses lured by the opportunity to earn more money and cultivate a lifestyle with greater freedom.
If you’re one of these talented entrepreneurs, you’ve likely discovered that while building a somewhat successful design or development company is undoubtedly possible, trying to grow, scale, and maintain healthy profit margins is exceptionally challenging.
You end up working harder as you seek to grow and have less freedom than when employed full time. You quickly reach a ceiling on your earnings as your income is tied to your time, much of which is spent trying to find and acquire new customers.
If you’re like most companies, you probably hired new designers or developers, expecting that you’ll be able to take on more projects and get projects done more efficiently. You may have even hired a business development professional whose sole purpose is to go out and find new clients.
But these avenues often fail to allow your business to scale efficiently and leave you with an entirely new set of challenges. You’re forced to cover the additional wages, and it becomes harder to identify, manage, and track project costs.
What’s more, consistently delivering quality outcomes for your clients becomes more difficult with your expanded team, as it’s likely you haven’t really implemented the right internal processes and systems.
Sound familiar? It doesn’t have to be this way.
Getting started with productization
The vast majority of agencies and development companies assume the best and most efficient way to sell their services is to list their expertise in different service areas, e.g., web design, mobile app development, etc.
This is inefficient and not scalable.
With every new client, the ins and outs of each service, what they are about, what’s involved, how they work, expected outcomes, and deliverables must be explained by you or your team, requiring multiple phone calls and emails.
This prolonged communication process often frustrates and confuses your clients because they usually won’t have expertise on the topic at hand, resulting in conversations going cold and ultimately leading to nothing.
Productization throws this process out the window.
Productization is about transforming a service into a product with a persuasive value proposition that makes it easier for potential clients to understand and make a purchase.
A productized service has a set price (one-time or recurring), a set timeline, a fixed scope of work, and should target a specific type of client by solving a particular business need or pain point.
Turning a service into a product requires three things:
- A defined process which includes the roles of those involved, stages of production, and other key inputs.
- A well-articulated presentation of the problem that's getting solved for the customer.
- Clear outcomes and deliverables the customer can expect to receive.
Here are few businesses that have productized their services:
Design Pickle offers an unlimited graphic design service with an essential/standard, pro, and custom plan, based on users needs.
Scribe provides services designed to help people write, publish, edit, and market their books through four distinct plans.
Manypixels offers an unlimited graphic design service for startups, agencies and freelancers via a basic or premium plan.
Growmodo offers a service to help companies without design or tech expertise to get all their website related tasks done for one monthly flat rate.
As you’ll notice, productization brings clarity and organization, which helps speed up the sales process and, ultimately, project delivery time.
By charging a fixed price, having a well defined and fixed scope of work and deliverables, and a set timeline, there’s no need to send customized proposals back and forth. Potential clients are far more likely to understand a service and whether it’s the right fit for them, which avoids disputes later on.
Furthermore, because the productization process requires defining key inputs, stages of production, and roles of the people involved, you can become more efficient at completing projects and less wasteful with resources resulting in projects completed faster and with more significant profit margins.
It’s about working smarter not harder
Your company’s ability to scale depends on whether you can sell and deliver your services efficiently. When done right, productization leads to a significantly shortened sales process and a better buying experience.
With a defined and standardized roadmap to complete projects more efficiently, productization also enables you to direct far more time and resources toward serving more customers and finding new avenues for growth.
Ultimately, productization can be a game-changer and should be something that all design and development companies explore. It enables your business to scale its operations far beyond a founder and core team and do so in the smartest and most efficient way.
Anthony is the Chief Content Officer at Intrepid, a global marketplace community to buy and sell professional technology and creative services.
Intrepid provides everything a growing design or development company needs to productize their services, reach a global customer base, and sell their services to startups and global brands. All without spending countless hours searching for new clients and chasing down leads on LinkedIn and Angellist.
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