This is a picture of a flyer my local Mercedes garage sent me. I have no idea whether they dreamed it up themselves or it was produced centrally by the Mercedes marketing people but I think it is a very telling document – have a look at it in more detail here.
What they have done is take a common or garden car service and turned it into a product that they can customise, differentiate and promote. In my opinion it changes the game.
From a psychological point of view we like to buy things in a box which are easy to set-up and use (engagement) and with a very simple set of options attached that help us to choose the right version of the product for us. If you’re interested in the thinking behind choice (and you really should be if you want people to choose you) check out this TED talk by Sheena Iyengar.
So if you believe the research (and your very own buying habits) the more you can productise your offerings the easier it is to differentiate and ultimately sell them.
Does this apply if you only “sell” internally? Well if your internal stakeholders have a choice of whether they engage with you or perhaps more importantly, how they engage with you then it very much does. If you are an IT person offering a range of services to your internal customers then exactly the same rules apply.
So what does “productise” actually mean? Well here is my take on it: –
- Give your service a name that would indicate an outcome rather than a process. “Limousine Premium Valet” is better than car wash (tongue firmly in cheek their folks).
- Provide different levels with prices to match. Each level has a very simple set of features and benefits attached – notice the tick-box approach Mercedes took. Each option should have also have it’s own name and fixed price attached.
- Talk about outcomes not features. Nobody cares if your your “Limousine Premium Valet” uses one bucket of water per wash but they do care that you don’t need to keep asking them to refill your bucket with clean water” .
- Make the engagement as easy as possible. Apple does so well because their approach is plug and play: see an app, download it and use it straight away. Compare this to loading software onto your PC.
- Choose a brand look and feel to present your product. After all it has now become something much more tangible than when it was a simple service.
- Make it very predictable. When somebody buys your product of choice they know precisely what they are going to get. In many ways this aspect of a productised service is the most important: consistency builds brand identity, improves referral rates and creates many more satisfied customers.
Ultimately we do what we do so it shouldn’t really matter how we present it but just ask any chef and she will tell you “the first taste is with the eye” and so it is when we buy things. The way we present our offerings will have a gigantic influence over the way in which we attract our clients and how they go through their decision making process.
So my final message: productise to accumulise (I may have made that word up for rhetorical purposes).