A Four-Step Process
Whether you’re a product-based company or a service-based company, you may want to develop your offering so that you can make more revenue per sale, be more competitive, and also solve your client’s problems better than you are currently doing. While it’s a strong way to improve your business, you might wonder “well, how do I go about doing that? I already have an offering,” or, “if this is what everybody else is doing, don’t I just do the same thing as my competitors?” Actually, developing an offering that differentiates your business is one of the best ways to gain a competitive advantage. This can be accomplished through four basic steps:
First Step: Client Research
The first step is to do some research with your clients. When you talk to your clients, you want to ask them things like:
- What could we be doing for you that we aren’t already doing?
- Is there a product you wish we carried?
- Are there certain aspects of our service that you have to go to another company for because we don’t already offer them?
- Do you wish our services were available at a different time of day?
You really need to have an exploratory conversation with a group of your best clients – at least half a dozen or a dozen clients. Once you have gathered this information, it will really help you to generate a wealth of ideas.
Second Step: Competitor Research
The next step is to look at your competition in detail. And when I say competition, I don’t just mean companies who directly steal business from you or who operate in your immediate geographic area. This label can also include companies that have similar services that can exist in any other part of the world. In fact, if you look around at enough different kinds of “competitors” – or exemplary companies in your industry – you can get ideas for new services that you might be able to offer. You could also look at companies who do aspects of what your suppliers do or facets of the service that you are suppliers for. This would include a broadening and vertical integration of your services as additional options.
Between the first step, which is talking to clients, and the second step, which is researching competitors and other kinds of companies, you can generate a lot of ideas for brand new offerings. Then the question becomes, “do I offer a whole bunch of new random offerings just because they do?” Of course not!
Third Step: Imagine Your Ideal Client
For the third step, you need to look back at your mission statement and at your ideal clients. Imagine that one type of our ideal client comes through the door of your company with a problem. And when that client comes through the door with that problem, you’re gonna have a solution. For the sake of this exercise, we’re going to assume that that solution you provide is something that that client is gonna say yes to.
Ask yourself, what is the first thing you would do for that customer that comes through the door? Maybe you would come up with an original concept for them and then maybe you would draw that up. Or maybe you would create a group of products they can use. Whatever it is that you do, you roleplay step-by-step how you would go about solving that client’s problem right through until making the sale…and even after. How would you follow-up and continue to serve that client’s need for those kinds of problems over and over again?
If you can imagine a sequence of how you would serve your ideal client, assuming that they would say yes to everything, that’s how you develop a full and competitive offering. You can also repeat this exercise for different types of customers, industries, or demographics depending on how many you feel you can realistically serve.
Fourth Step: Refine
The final step is to refine your offering so that you can determine which potential offerings you can deliver on – and it may not even be that you have to do them all in-house. Some of them you might have to sub out but you can still create the solution through your company and the potential client doesn’t even need to be aware that you’re sourcing from other areas. But it does help you to build a broader offering than you might have been able to offer alone. And it also gives you some opportunities to grow into those services in the future, and bring them in-house, if you gain enough demand for them.
So in a nutshell, it’s four basic steps: research your clients, research your competition, imagine what your ideal clients want from you start-to-finish, and then refine it. And if you want to get really fancy, you can create nice little brand names for your different service offerings or solution packages. A popular example online is “gold”, “silver”, and “bronze” levels. But of course, you’re gonna be more creative than that, right? So that’s it! Good luck with your offering development and thanks for listening.