BLOG: Why you need to think product, not service.

When you create bundles (or packages) of services & software for a fixed fee, whether you realise it or not – you actually turn your services into products

BLOG: Why you need to think product, not service.

Accountants everywhere are starting to fix their fees and show their products & prices on their websites – here's why you should do the same.

When you create bundles (or packages) of services & software for a fixed fee, whether you realise it or not – you actually turn your services into products.

And this a powerful opportunity from a marketing perspective.

Here's why:

  • Products are easier to sell than services.
  • Products are more quantifiable - your customer knows exactly what they're getting and how much they'll pay before they buy. Contrasted with a service, it's hard to know exactly what result you're going to get and how much you'll pay at the end.
  • Products make it possible for you to value price, rather than charging by the hour.
  • You can create specific processes and software around the product to help you support and deliver it reliably.

Why selling products is easier

This is not just semantics. When you start thinking about your services as products, it forces you to get clear on 3 critical things before you take your offer to market:

  • The benefit (why someone should buy this product)
  • The price
  • The features (what's included, how it works) 

When you're this specific with your marketing, the buying decision is made much easier for your prospects because there is less uncertainty (or risk).

But here's the kicker.

It makes finding and talking to prospects a whole lot easier.

Let's say you created a product designed specifically to help businesses who want to grow fast. Your product would need to include things like:

  • A list of outcomes and benefits
  • A kick-off meeting to define goals and KPI's
  • Regular review meetings
  • Customised reports and dashboards to review progress
  • Specialty software apps to perform specific functions
  • And all the regular compliance work too

This is a product, with a specific focus and benefit i.e. rapid business growth. Who among your existing clients would be interested in this product? I'm sure you can immediately think of a few.

And when you talk to them, you've actually got something to say. Instead of the usual "Hey Jim, is there anything more we can do for you?" (that's being not proactive, you need to go to your clients with solutions, not questions!).

The conversation goes more like this:

"Hey Jim, we've been speaking to a few of our clients recently who have businesses that are doing really well, but could benefit from a more structured and proactive approach to managing their growth and making the most of the opportunities in front of them. I know you're flat out busy, but that's even more reason to consider this new service we've created which allows us to get more onboard, sharing the load and helping you to manage your growth.

The new service is called 'Max'. We called it Max because it's all about maximising your profits and the effectiveness of you and your team. It includes [list of features] and costs $900/mth... and while it's quite a bit more than what you're currently paying I'm confident you'll be impressed with the results. For example, another client we're working with has seen 20% sales growth over the past 4 months, equating to $60k in additional profit. It's a direct result of us helping them getting focused on what matters most, and regularly reviewing progress – that's what Max is all about, we help you stay on track and hit your targets, and help you manage any bumps along the way.

What do you think? Keen to give it a try? We need a minimum 6 month commitment... etc, etc..."

Some of you might call the product above "Virtual CFO" - but that term's been overused, and I'm not sure many business owners understand the benefits a Virtual CFO offers. Also when every other accounting firm is offering VCFO services, you're much better to come up with your own product... you could even trademark it, creating a unique and defendable point of differentiation.

The 'product not service' approach can work for all sorts of services. They can be as varied as the number of services and software add-ons you can think of. Here's some examples:

  • Monthly Debtor Management
  • Accounts + Bookkeeping bundle
  • One-off record keeping standards check up
  • Benchmarking
  • Tax minimisation review

You're only limited by your imagination. Seth Godin said in his book The Idea Virus that there are no new ideas, but rather new configurations of existing ideas that result in new products and services.

How can you reconfigure your old boring service list into products with far greater appeal? Then how can you get them in front of your clients?

This blog was written by Matt McFedries, founder of PracticePlus. Matt's worked in software and marketing for over 13 years, focusing specifically on accountants for the past 3 years. His mission is to equip accountants with the software and thinking that helps them compete in the digital age. You can get in touch with him here or add your comments below.

Matt McFedries PracticePlus

As founder of PracticePlus, Matt’s expertise includes digital and brand strategy, website development and integration. His thorough knowledge and skills of IT and marketing – drawn from 15 years’ experience – are all encompassing, from CMS and CRM, online, email and mobile marketing to software development, SEO and web design.