We’re joined this week by Greg Hickman to discuss all things Coaching, Consulting, and how to leverage Productized Services to maximize those profits!
About Greg Hickman
Greg is the Founder and CEO of AltAgency™, one of the top coaching and training companies for agencies looking to grow and scale by packaging their expertise. This involves installing systems for growth, and leveraging automation to save time, with the end goal of divorcing their time from their income.
They have worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs, ranging from Jay Baer, John Lee Dumas, Dan Martell, Betty Rocker, Nerd Fitness, and Chris Ducker, among many other up-and-coming business leaders. They’ve helped over 503+ agency owners transition from time-for-money services to selling their knowledge and expertise.
Greg also runs a YouTube channel aimed at teaching agencies, freelancers, experts, and consultants to package their expertise into digital products, programs, and training, that all work without them!
Greg, an avid Mountain Biker, loves spending time with his wife and two children whenever he gets downtime.
Points of Interest…
- Defining productization or systemization services 3:20
- Mistakes made when starting to productize services 5:27
- Misconceptions when productizing services 11:13
- Framework for successful productized services 22:58
Defining the Productization or Systemization of a Service
There is a term that is used a lot in this field, and it’s “the accidental agency owner.” Anyone who is one knows exactly what we’re referring to, however, for those who might be in need of some clarification; the Accidental Agency Owner is someone who has a particular skill in which they have excelled, and thus, they’re now fronting a business.
It’s not uncommon for this faction of society to find that the traditional agency model doesn’t quite fit their needs. For instance; perhaps they’d prefer to be paid for their expertise – not just labor and time. This is where the good people of Alt Agency would step in…
“We’re helping agencies figure out what we perceive to be the modern-day agency model for most small to medium-sized businesses in this agency space. It’s the best model in terms of freedom, money, impact. We’re helping owners transition and/or build out the systems and operations to scale that for their own expertize.”
Digging into the meat of what a productized or systemized service looks like; in Greg’s vast experience, this hot topic can be summarized as…
“A predefined solution solving a predefined problem, using predefined deliverables, which are delivered in a predefined timeframe, for a predefined price point.”
In Greg’s opinion, the above definition encompasses every single “productized service” that exists, which incorporates coaching, consulting, and training. Productize doesn’t mean one-on-one, and it doesn’t automatically mean “done for you.”
Clarity can be brought to this by being clear about the problem that you want to solve and working backward from that point. That’s just good practice for any service, whether you go to the extent of trying to standardize the rest of those elements or not.
Mistakes made when Starting to Productize Services
Aside from not being crystal clear about the issue you’re trying to solve, I’m keen to learn of the other notable mistakes Greg has seen people experience when initially falling for the allure of service productization. While there are “out of the box” type courses that teach you how to start a particular type of productized business. However, when you’re in the trenches, so to speak, things are rarely that arbitrary.
“I think one mistake is if you’re just jumping into it because it seems like a business opportunity. I don’t know many people that have done it that way and had long-term sustainable success… If you’re a generalist and you’ve done full-service work, you probably have your productized service offering – it’s just being clouded and covered by scope creep or scope seep.”
If you’ve not heard of scope creep’s evil twin, ***Greg delves further into his ‘seep’ definition from 8:29 minutes*** There is another common trap his clients tend to fall into, and that’s trying to productize EVERYTHING. While that’s probably a step in the right direction in some way, but it’s best to stick with Clay Collins’ Rule of Five Ones To the uninitiated among you; Collins’ rules of five ones go a little something like this:
- Have 1 product
- Market said product to 1 personage
- Focus on 1 source of traffic
- Send said traffic source to 1 conversion mechanism
- Focus on this combination for 1 year whereupon you should experience month-on-month growth
I pull a few threads on the ***my personal experience of productized niches from the 10:15 minute juncture***
Misconceptions when Productizing Services
The minute that you create a product, the benefit of that is it gets more efficient. However, the downside is it becomes harder to change. While it’s easy to get on a sales call, tell somebody whatever they want to hear, and then afterwards be like, “Okay, let’s figure out how to do this!”
That’s totally fine. After all, it’s how you figure out problems. However, you need the necessary clarity/experience to see a pattern emerging – that 80% of your clients are asking for basically the same stuff and it’s perhaps time to start working towards that one thing.
So, I’m keen to query Greg about productizing misconceptions – one in particular. That being the fear of productizing. Usually, said fear is born from the perception of “missing out” on all the adjacent revenue, or from the belief that the majority of your work comes via referrals. When, in actuality, you now just have a way to actually attract people that don’t know you because you have a clear message about what you do and how you solve it! Greg gives his take on this, and operational drag via custom clients, from 12:19 minutes***
A lot of people will be sucked back into the familiar vortex of doing custom work simply because they’re not sure how to navigate through that initial lift of helping walk a potential client through a certain way of thinking.
“To me, the fear of productization comes from the belief that it’s black and white. I think of it more like a spectrum, like ‘How productized are you?’ Much of the concept of productization came from John Warrillow via Built to Sell. Based on a true story, it was a creative firm that did all of the creative things – and they productized down into logos. That doesn’t mean everyone’s getting the same logo…”
But how can that be?! Well, simply because you get to choose from a list of options that have been predefined for you. It’s productized, yet still custom, because you have a say in the outcome. And that’s why productization is a spectrum! Greg provides further examples of his analogy to from 20:34***
Framework for Successful Productized Services
OK, so what needs to be true for your productized service to have the best chance of success? How would Greg describe that high level framework?
“Look at the services you currently offer and identify any trends. The clients that get the most results, that rave about you and you enjoy working with – are there any similarities there? If you’ve been in the game long enough, there will probably be some sort of indication of what they’re asking for, or their preferred outcome. That’s where I would start to narrow down.”
By narrow down, Greg means he would still want to work with clients cosely even as he’s narrowing – while elevating the price – ’cause productize doesn’t mean it needs to be cheaper! As you narrow down, the focus needs to be on who you serve and what you’re selling, alongside the optimum outcome – the end transformation/result. Bear in mind that your productized service might incorporate a couple different skill sets from inside your agency. For example, perhaps you’ll need to do a little bit of paid with a little bit of organic.
In addition to focussing on the who and the what, look at your existing clients and see what they pay you the most for – and what they tend to recommend you for. That should hopefully provide you with a decent idea of the direction you should head in on your productization journey.
However, in the event that you’re starting out, and have had only ten clients each of which wanted something different, then you should start a client interview/feedback process. You can glean information from them regarding the work they found most helpful/unhelpful, etc. Ideally, interview clients that you enjoy wanting to serve! Or, as Greg puts it…
“You have to fall in love with the problem that your (potential) client is having, not the solution you’ve devised… really fall in love with the person that would be the recipient of said service – because the problem is gonna evolve over time and that’s gonna require your solution to evolve as well.”
Productizing your services and/or adding targeted coaching is the simplest and most profitable way to unlink your time from income. And productization is a process, not an event.
In Greg’s experience, a key piece of the puzzle involves every agency having three streams of income; your Product, your Core Offer (ideally a program or done with you), and your High Level “done for you” or “one on one” service. Take an iterative approach, just focus on your problem, and then create a feedback loop!
Once you have those three such streams in place, then you should be positioned for whatever the market throws at you – ’cause when people don’t want labor, they want knowledge, and vice versa.
See more from Greg…
- Greg’s YouTube @GregHickmanTV
- Greg’s LinkedIn @gregoryjhickman
Did you learn anything new from this episode? Let us know in the comments below! We have helpful blogs designed to bolster your agency profitability, such as How To Calculate Your Billable Employee Cost-Per-Hour.
Our next installment of #APP, on October 5th, will see Marcel chat with Tatiyana Cure. Our previous blog – Episode 95 with Rachel Jacobs – can be viewed here…
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