What’s the right service offering for you and your business?
The big challenge thought leaders, business experts and professional service firms have is choosing the right mix of services to offer.
Two Big Mistakes
There are two big mistakes that most people make with their service offering.
First, they offer too many things. For instance, they have services for solopreneurs, a different set of services for organisations and another set of online services. They’re doing coaching, creating courses, churning out content and chasing keynote presentations.
Second, they don’t have strategic flow in their business. Strategic flow is when one activity naturally leads to another.
Many people don’t achieve this because they separate their promotional activities from their paid activities. That’s like cooking two meals at the same time. You finish up running back and forth between one and the other.
Simplify your Service Offering
Therefore, a lot of business people, especially solo entrepreneurs end up stressed, overwhelmed, and tired because what they’re trying to do is simply exhausting.
In this post, I’ll share a service offering strategy that will clarify and simplify your business. Plus, it will provide strategic flow through all your service offerings.
You’ll fall in love with this because it’s easier to manage and it provides better results. You will be clear on what to focus on and your potential clients will also be clear on what you offer meaning they are more likely to buy from you.
Your Product and Service Mix
It used to be that there was a very clear division between a product and a service. The old rule of thumb was that if you could stick it in a wheelbarrow then it’s a product and everything else was a service. Today with digital products and services this line has become blurred.
This is one big reason that many people have too many service offerings and they get confused and overwhelmed by all the different things they offer.
I find the best way to talk about products and services is to speak about them together as if they are the same thing. In this post, I will include products as part of your service offering.
What is a service offering?
A simple definition of a service offering is the things you promote and sell to your clients.
It is important here to include both paid products and services as well as free ones. And this is the key to providing strategic flow between your promotional activities and your paid products and services.
The Four Layers of a Service Offering
There are four layers to your service offering.
1 Service Mode
The first layer of your service offering is the method or mode of service you offer. For instance, are you providing coaching, training, mentoring, project supervision, consulting or presentations?
2 Service Level
The second layer is the service level that is offered or obtained by the customer at each level. Your service levels define how you will work with your clients. There are three main levels of service:
- DIY – Do It Yourself – For example, a self-paced online course. You might like to consider your products as DIY services.
- WWY – Work With You – This is typically how a coach will work – they will have conversations with you.
- DIFY – Do It For You where create the result for your client. For example, I will design your website for you or as a keynote presenter, I will deliver the presentation to your audience.
You may also offer a mix of these services levels within the same client project. For instance, a consultant may work with a client on some parts of the project and do the work in other areas.
3 Service Interaction
The third layer is the level of interaction and personalisation you provide. For instance, do you offer group coaching or one-on-one coaching? Is it a small group of ten or a large auditorium of over 1000 people?
4 Service Delivery
The fourth layer is the delivery vehicle you use to provide your service. For instance, you can deliver it personally face-to-face, provide it through a virtual technology like zoom or as a product that can be either physical or digital.
Service Offering Template
While that might seem like a lot of choices, the good news is that there is a lot of overlap between these options. Even better, I have a simple visual way for you to map and model this. It’s the equivalent of a one-page service offering template.
Our Service Offering Map has three basic elements:
- On the vertical axis, we have money
- Next, on the horizontal axis, we have our level of relationship.
- And then we map a curve onto the two axes.
Your Service Offer Curve
The curve on the graph is called your Service Offer Curve – we map your Service Offerings on this curve.
The curve is based on the principle that as you increase the level of relationship with your clients the potential to earn money also increases.
For example, an impulse buy of a chocolate bar at the supermarket checkout doesn’t require a relationship with anyone. But buying a house is a much bigger decision and you’re more likely to rely on a lot of trust with your real estate agent before you commit to a purchase.
You might like to think of this as a series of customer touchpoints or your Customer Journey Map.
Free and Fee Services
You might have noticed that the curve doesn’t start in the corner of the axes. Instead, it starts a little along the relationship line.
This implies that you need to build some level of relationship or series of touchpoints before a client will pay you money.
It also combines both your free and fee (earn you money) products and services into a single process. This is important to add strategic flow to your marketing and service offering. Typically, your free service offerings will include:
- Social media and content marketing
- Attending networking events
- Meetings with potential clients
- Referrals from existing clients
The Point of Opt-in
For many businesses, especially those using social media and content marketing to drive traffic to your website, the critical first point of relationship building is when someone opts into your email list. Until this point, consumers of your content can read your posts and watch your videos without a commitment. And importantly, do it anonymously.
But when they give you their email address – usually in exchange for a lead magnet like an eBook, mini-course or checklist – the relationship shifts. Now you know who they are (at least by their email address), plus you have permission to contact them.
The First Sale
Another key milestone in the customer journey is when a customer pays you money for the first time.
As we said previously, a customer can skip and jump any of the steps here. In other words, a customer can join your customer offering map at any point. They may give you their email address and then buy from you or they may simply visit your website and pay for a product or service as their first point of contact.
On the Offer Curve, when a client pays you money the curve will begin to rise from the baseline.
In 0ur previous post, How to Sell Your Service – 13 Sneaky Easy Ways, we discussed ways to minimise the risk for your potential clients before they buy from you. For example, if you’re only offering a premium of $10K a month of business coaching, then you are going to need a strong referral, a great reputation or a series of product and services steps before a client will commit.
Service Offering Price Points
One of the great advantages of this simple Service Offer Curve is that you can easily see the price points you are offering your products and services.
A price point is a point where the customer views your product or service as being fair value and you can satisfy a reasonable demand.
For instance, if you sell your book at $1 you might sell 1000 copies because it is seen as exceptional value. In contrast, if you sold your book for $10 you might only sell 100 copies, but you would earn the same income with less outlay.
Ideally, by mapping your Service Offerings on this curve you will see the general groups of prices you offer for your services. This makes it easier to group them into clear categories or refine the number and value of each item so they fit into a coherent whole.
Generic Service Offering Example
To see how the Service Offer Curve works, here is a generic example:
- Social Media and Content Marketing
- An email opt-in device
- A low-cost product
- A simple service
- Your premium service
Some of you might recognise this as an Ascension strategy.
An Ascension strategy essentially maps a series of steps a potential client takes in buying from you.
Traditionally, an ascension ladder is like a ladder where you climb one rung at a time until you climb to the top rung.
We’re not using this in a literal way. We’re not expecting anybody to buy all of your products and services in sequence. People don’t buy a new house by buying a door, then a wall and then the roof. Instead, they’re more likely to visit a display home and then they make a single purchase.
Instead, we’re using a series of ascending offers merely to position your services so people can compare your different offers. In particular, we want to use smaller offers to position your premium offer as a premium service. If you don’t provide other offers, there is no context or reference point for comparison.
Service Offering Examples
Now let’s look at some more specific examples of service offerings.
Super Simple Coaching Example
A super simple coaching example might only have two steps.
If you’re able to generate compelling content, build a strong network of followers or attract a good supply of referrals this might be sufficient to attract coaching clients.
My business has a couple of extra layers in it. This is what my coaching business looks like mapped across the Service Offering Template:
- YouTube videos and blog posts
- An email opt-in device
- Group Coaching
- Personal Coaching
A website designer has choices around the three Service Levels we mentioned earlier. They could offer:
- A DIY package
- They may work with you to design your website
- Or they may design the website for you
Most website designers have a three-part service offering model:
- They share content,
- Build up and an email list and then…
- Do the design work for the client.
An alternative strategy might be a product or service in the middle. This could be a DIY course, a checklist, a website review and report or a book. The advantage of this extra step is that it allows you to showcase your expertise at a deeper or more personalised level (eg website review) than your free content.
Plus, it might even show all of the things a web designer needs to perform to achieve a great result – which is why it’s easier for each person to let the expert do it all for them.
Five tips to create your unique Service Offering Strategy
To create a service offering that you’ll fall in love with requires you to create a unique strategy based on your business because the aim here is to simplify your workload. Plus, you present a clear set of offers for your potential clients making it more likely that they will buy from you.
Here are my five tips to personalise your service offering strategy.
1 List your existing product and service mix
Take a moment to see how many different things you are offering. While there is no magic number, you’ll probably need a minimum of two and probably don’t want more than five items. Typically, you will need to map a few different variations to find your ideal solution.
Once you’ve mapped out your product and service mix, ask yourself this crucial question: Am I creating too much work for myself or can I simplify what I offer?
2 Identify your Premium Service Offer
Once you’ve listed your full product and service mix you want to identify your premium service offer. This is the service that you’d like to sell the most of. Typically, it will either be your highest price item or your most leveraged – the one you can sell to the most people.
Ask yourself: If you were only going to sell one service, which one would it be? Why?
3 Refine your Strategic Flow
Now that you have identified your Premium Service Offer put it at the top of your Service Offer Curve.
From here, we want to work backwards by asking: What does a potential client need prior to buying this service?
Start to map out your Service Offering on the Curve. Review what you’ve created through the lens of Strategic Flow. Ask yourself: Is there a strategic flow from one offer to the next? In other words, are your service offerings lined up as a natural sequence?
4 Think Free and Fee together
Next, you want to make sure you have added all of your free products onto your Service Offer Curve. We usually remember the things we sell but may not recognise all of the free things we do along the way.
Once you’ve done this, do another Strategic Flow review. Does one offer lead to the next?
5 Beware of the Dragon’s Tail
This final tip around your Service Offering is a crucial one because your original goal was to move from stressed and overwhelmed because you are overcomplicating your business. Instead, you want to simplify your service offerings and your sales process so you can love what we do and make it easier for your clients to buy from you.
Ideally, if you are a solo operator then one Service Offering Template will be sufficient. If you find your Service Offer curve has multiple curves on it and it looks like a Dragon’s Tail (see image) then you are probably heading for more frustration and overwhelm. Make life easy for yourself and your potential clients by simplifying your business.
Summary: Create a service offering you’ll fall in love with
Your service offering is the things you promote and sell to your clients.
The best way to review your service offering is to include all products, services, free services, paid services and promotional activities on the one Service Offering Template.
There are four main types of service offerings for professional service firms:
- The mode or method
- As a level of support
- Based on the level of interaction
- Through your delivery vehicle
Using a Service Offer Curve is a simple way to map your service offers on a single diagram.
Having too many Service Offerings is a sure-fire way to stress, overwhelm and exhaustion. Simplify your service offering to simplify your business and make it easier for clients to buy from you.
More on how to Create your Service Offering
Here are some more resources on different ways to write a book:
- How to sell your service – 13 sneaky easy ways to add sample products or services to your service offering mix.
- Know Your Clients Thoughts – a simple three-part strategy for pitching your services
- Content Marketing Strategy – share what you know – how giving away your best work in your books can grow your audience