Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to sell a product rather than a service?
At Growth Path, we’ve worked with lots of companies over the years to increase their sales and stabilize their cash flow by ‘productizing’ their services. In some ways, productizing is counterintuitive. Instead of more flexibility, you offer less. Yet by offering your services as a package with a clearly defined scope, your clients know exactly what to expect and exactly what it will cost. Companies should focus on services that are executed over a period of time thus providing continuous cash flow, like Beyond the Box did in 2010.
The One-Hit Wonder
Beyond the Box was anything but boring. Its staff, talented performance artists and Second City alumni, built the company around unique teambuilding workshops. Employees at companies from X____ to C___ spent afternoons constructing art projects that sparked imagination and participating in activities designed to foster team spirit. Instead of firing away e-mails all afternoon, they laughed with the same colleagues they’d argued with the day before.
Everyone, it seemed, loved the program. But once a company completed the half-day workshop, it was over. It was Beyond the Box’s only service. Even if their clients wanted more, there was nothing left to sell.
Beyond the Box’s issue was in offering a single service – a one-off that made repeat business impossible. It was serving a single dish when it could have been serving a seven-course meal.
Beyond the Box engaged Growth Path to help them capitalize on their former success and grow their business. Given their incredible client list, the solution was obvious: Present former clients with targeted, longer-term services to allow for deeper penetration into companies and stable cash flow. Growth Path worked with Beyond the Box to break down all their programs into individual elements, and patterns began to emerge. There were exercises perfect for managers and seminars perfect for sales. There were workshops that built teams and others that built communication skills. It was more than enough material for multiple sessions targeted to different functions within an organization.
From all the customized exercises, workshops, and seminars, Growth Path created a nine-month, three-tiered program. After the first workshop, employees had the opportunity to participate in a 45-minute refresher session that sharpened their skills and created anticipation for the next workshop. Following that, each workshop built on the previous one, incorporating staff feedback and building on pre-existing knowledge.
Marketing: the New Plan
Of course, this structural change demanded a marketing change along with it. Beyond the Box had no problem with the easy sell. A painless afternoon that improved the company dynamic was attractive for obvious reasons. Convincing those same companies to purchase a nine-month program would be much harder. For Beyond the Box, the key to continual cash flow was continuous dialogue with clients and targeted marketing that built on past successes. Growth Path worked with Beyond the Box to build a marketing plan that identified key touch points, and promoted its additional programs. After the initial workshop, Beyond the Box followed up with an e-mail blast to participants, reminding them of what they learned. The e-mails also included new tips that helped bridge the gap between the seminar exercises and the real-life work environment. E-marketing quickly became a core foundation of their promotion strategy, keeping Beyond the Box front-of-mind with clients.
Immediately after Beyond the Box rolled out its new extended program, X____ signed up. The revamped sales and communication materials made targeting past clients easy, but it also created a gateway for recruiting clients. By expanding existing relationships and building new ones, Beyond the Box was able to grow immensely, bringing in profits far greater than it thought possible and, just as importantly, bringing in those profits on a regular basis.