Productizing a bespoke serviceis like buying a cake mix, it's easy to see what's on display, compare the different types, and choose the one that looks like it will make the cake you want.A service that is "productized" is sold in the same way as a product.They are easy to find, choose, and buy.And even though the results may not be as predictable as a cake mix, they're a lot more specific than a service that doesn't say what it's going to be like.
The Path To Productizing Your Services
There must be a level of productization in order for a service businessto grow and for the founder to leave client delivery.
Contentmills come to mind.
Strategic partners are not what come to mind when thinking of vendors.
This is completely at odds with what you do.
In order to provide a truly customized, strategic, and quantifiable businessservice, how can it possibly be productized?
You must, however, address the scalability issue if you are to be relieved of some of the day-to-day responsibilities.
This does not mean that you will start producing cookie-cutter "strategies" or generic content for the sake of productization.
It does, however, imply that the content you are producing must be narrowed and refined.You need a better idea of how much time and moneyit will take to create a particular piece of content.
The concept of "productization" is a continuum.
It's not a pejorative term for anything like that.To put it another way, it means that your business is built around a specific product or service.You concentrate on a single task and/or a specific group of customers, and you do so in a focused manner.
It's like a restaurant.
There are restaurants that specialize in different types of food (dishes).However, every successful restaurant has found a way to commercialize its unique selling point.
It's no secret that some fast-food restaurants are firmly rooted in the industrialization and mass production models.For a fast, inexpensive hamburger, McDonald's is the place to go.To get what they want, people go there.A gourmet dining experience is not what they expect.
Content mills exist in our world, and this is one of them.They consistently produce a large amount of content, but with little thought given to strategy or the importance placed on the content itself.A fast-food version of content marketingis what they are.Moreover, some businesses are interested in or require this type of service.
Optimist, on the other hand, is a far cry from that.
A certain level of "productization" is achieved even by a 5-star restaurant:
You can still order from the menu if you wish.
Even today, they only prepare pre-planned meals that they have spent time planning and prepping.
The crab cakes are basically the same for everyone who orders them.
The menu is usually quite limited in size.It's a small menu of carefully selected dishes that the chef and kitchen staff have mastered and can consistently produce at a high level of excellence.
This allows the kitchen to produce top-notch food without causing havoc.In spite of the fact that there's still some confusion, I'm optimistic.
In addition, customers who visit the restaurant are expecting a top-notch dining experience.On top of that, they're not looking for anything that will be quick or inexpensive.They don't anticipate being able to order off the menu or make last-minute substitutions.
You must operate in a world like this.There is no need for us to be a "do-it-all" eatery or a "cheap and fast" eatery.
Aspire to be a 5-star steakhouse of content marketing—a specialized, boutique operation.
There is a lot of food on the menu, so employees must know how toprepare it.
It is important to that our client strategy be both tailored and modular, so that it can be tailored to the specific needs of each individual client.
Optimist have given in to many one-off requests from clients over the years.Despite technical ability, they've agreed to perform work that we are ill-equipped to perform at a high standard.At this point, they're no longer the type of eatery that only serves a limited number of high-quality dishes, but rather a restaurant that serves a wide variety.
Work Optimist have done in the past:
- Tactical how-to articles
- “Viral” articles
- Affiliate articles
- Awards and badges
- Case studies
- White papers
- On-page optimization projects
- Original data analysis
- Original surveys
- Data visualizations
- Maps and geographic data projects
- Landing page copywriting
- Landing page design
- Email newsletters
- Email nurture campaigns
- Organic social promotion
- Paid social promotion
- Social content
- Social graphics
- Tactical link building
- Guest post link building
- PR/media link building
- Broken link building
- Sales collateral
- Slide decks
- Product comparisons
Try to do all of these things, and expect your team to deliver all of these different kinds of content, was not the best idea.It also makes it hard for Optimism to make enough products so that they can keep growing without having a lot of chaos.
Many things they didn't do well.
They were serving frozen pizza at their five-star steakhouse, so they had to stop.
Starting in the next few weeks, Optimist be focusing on the work they're good at and that fits well with their team structure and work flow.As part of this transition, they've looked at where they're best suited and where the team is most excited to work on.
But for now, just know that they're going to cut their menu down from 34 items to just 5 or 6 main things.
Anything outside of that, it’ll handle in one of three ways
- Spin it out — Creating a separate team and company for out-of-scope work that doesn’t fit under the Optimist umbrella
- Refer it out — Send the work to a trusted partner or outside agency
- Project work - On very few cases, our team has agreed that we will consider taking on one-off projects for well-established clients; these will be individually scoped and managed outside of our day-to-day workflow
There will be more quality work and less confusion in the end for both the team and the clients if they keep going in the direction they're going right now.
But it's not diluting at all.It's a process called distillation.
Important things to remember:
- No, the word "productization" is not a bad word.We can standardize some parts of our business without giving up the strategy and creativity that make us unique.
- Productivity requires a lot of specialization.We don't have the moneyor time to make all of the things we've put on our menu into products.A small kitchen means we have to work with what we have.
- Differentiation is what specialization is.To be everything for everyone, you'll be nothing to anyone.
They'll need to make some other changes to communicate this to the world as we move from a wide range of work to a focus on making things.
For one thing, they've said that they're a full-service company and that they offer a wide range of content types, services, and approaches.
They need to change the signs and show off the new menu.
If you want to know more about how they're repositioning the business and how they've grown so far, Part 4 will talk about that.