B-to-B Insights: At Your Service
The best piece of advice I ever received on marketing services was one word from the head of an IT consulting firm, who said: "Productize."
Products are tangible and services are intangible. Tangibles are easier to sell than intangibles. Therefore, the more you can make your service look like a product, the more tangible it will seem, and the easier it will be to sell.
If you are a consultant, don't just sell "consulting," which seems nebulous and open ended. Most likely, you consult on the same few problems. Package these as consulting products. For instance, one of my clients offers an IT retrospectives facilitation service, a technique used in IT project management. Instead of just offering "consulting," which could include retrospectives or other services, he offers "IT retrospectives" as a specific product.
When you face the same problem, need or application repeatedly, you develop your own procedures for solving it. Package these as a product with both a clear title and a written description of what the service entails. This description, which you will use in email and other promotions, can be written as narrative paragraphs and/or in bullets.
Don't Sell Your Services Short
In many service businesses, there is a need to present your services as well as ask questions to determine whether your service can solve the client's problem. Only after this initial assessment can you quote an accurate price and have the client engage you. So, the question arises as to when you should "put the meter down"; i.e., when you should stop spending time with the prospect for free and start charging.
Many service providers give away time and advice in the pursuit of new contracts, so why not treat this as a marketing tool? Call it a free consultation, evaluation or needs assessment, and assign a dollar value to it. This way, potential clients perceive they're getting something of value before even hiring you.
Bob Bly is a freelance copywriter who has written copy for more than 100 clients including IBM, AT&T, Praxair, Intuit, Forbes, and Ingersoll-Rand. McGraw-Hill calls Bob “America’s top copywriter” and he is the author of 90 books, including “The Copywriter's Handbook.” Find him online at www.bly.com or call (973) 263-0562.