Posts Tagged ‘business’
Creating Products For Your Service Business Is Easier Than Ever Wednesday, January 25th, 2012
Products and business go hand in hand. You can’t have a business if you don’t have anything to sell. Now that I have earned my master’s degree in stating the obvious, what I really want to do today is inspire you to keep creating for your business. Especially now that creating products for your service business is easier than ever.
Despite the fact that creating products for your service business is easy, there are still a lot of businesses not creating for their business. By not creating new products, these business owners are missing out on the opportunity to engage with their clients at a deeper level, tap new markets and grow their business in the process.
What’s the reason for the neglect? It could be the usual suspects:
- Don’t have the right players on the team
- Not sure how or what to create
- Maybe you even think you don’t have any good ideas
Do these sound familiar? Business owners are notorious for using them.
In today’s day and age, there is no excuse for not creating products for your service business. Take a look at some of the traditional product creation vehicles and how easy and inexpensive they are to use today:
- Video- It used to be that you needed a ton of expensive equipment. Digital format for videos wasn’t invented until around the early 90s. Since that time, creating a video is as easy as pointing a camera where you want it and start creating. With equipment like flip cams you can record a video and plug it straight into your computer to start editing. Apple computers has made editing videos easy as well. Don’t have a video camera. Use a service like Camtasia to roll a slide show that you can talk over and put music to.
- Audio- You don’t have to have a professional recording studio to record professional sounding audio to use with products and podcasts. Microphones like the Snowball make creating audio as easy as plugging the mic into your computer. Free services like Audacity make editing simple as well. You can use an inexpensive program like Reaper to capture your audio as well and lay multiple tracks.
- Workbooks- You don’t have to spend a fortune to have a professional looking workbook laid out and designed for your products. Places like Elance make it easy to find solid professional designers to out together great looking material at a fraction of the cost.
- Books- Whether you are creating an e-book or self publishing, creating a book is easier as well. Not only is it easy to create content through channels like a blog where you can literally blog your book. You also kill two birds with one stone by not only creating content to engage your following but you are also working towards a finished product of a book. Amazon has a number of options to help you put out a finished product that can be used as an e-book, physical book or is compatible with their Kindle reader as well. They will find editors, designers, etc.
- Home Study Courses- Do you have a service or process that you take clients through? If you do, are you missing out on the opportunity to capture that in the form of home study course? A home study course will incorporate a number of the elements that I talked about above. Videos, audios, a workbook, etc. This is a great way to show people what your service is all about at a lower barrier to entry. You can offer this as a physical product or make it strictly digital or even do both.
As you read through this ask yourself the following questions:
How good is your business at creating new products?
What holes are missing that need to be addressed with products?
To get you started and help you overcome some of your product creation obstacles, here are some of my most critical tips for getting more product created:
- Have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish with each new product you create. This seems fairly obvious but it’s easy to not articulate this upfront and then lose sight of what it is that you are really trying to accomplish. Keep your end user in mind.
- You have time here’s how to use it. Creating new products for your business is about setting aside the time. It’s all about creating the time and the space in your calendar to do this. I would set aside time in your calendar each week that is focused on product creation and idea development. If you don’t create the time on your calendar and stick with it, it will never happen. It’s about creating a rhythm that you work in.
- Holes that exist in your knowledge. You may have avoided creating because you don’t feel like you are “tech savvy”. I hear this a lot about entrepreneurs but the great thing about tech savvy people is they don’t come out of the womb knowing how to code in HTML and PHP, they learn it. Granted some people have more of an interest in these things than others. If tech ignorance is getting in the way of you growing your business, then you need to get over your fear or dislike of technology and make it your friend. If you need help, then find it. There is a lot of talented, inexpensive help out there. They may already be on your team.
- You don’t have any good ideas. I don’t hear this a lot from entrepreneurs as typically I am trying to get them to rein in the “good ideas” but there is a decent percentage of entrepreneurs who feel stuck or are down on their abilities to come up with good ideas. My suggestion here is to create quiet time for yourself to create in a location that is not work. We call this time a “power hour” and it happens before we do anything else in the morning. Having some quiet time to work-out, brainstorm, read, meditate or pray is a great way to get your creative juices flowing.
You know what to do and how to overcome obstacles, now it’s time to go out and do it. Take a minute right now and put some product creation time on your calendar and stick to it.
Are You Missing Out On These Product Creation Opportunities? Wednesday, January 4th, 2012
Whether you are a coach, a dentist, a chiropractor or you run a yoga studio, at some point, you have run into the challenge of the time for dollars game. How to overcome that challenge? One of the best ways to make your business and your life more efficient is through creating products for your client base to consume that doesn’t require your time.
Before I get into the different product creation opportunities, let me touch on the concept of the time for dollars trap in case you aren’t familiar with that already. One of the main challenges for service providers who work with people on a one-on-one basis is that their income is tied directly to the time they spend with their clients.
The dilemma then becomes, how do we get paid more once our calendar is full? Ahhhh.
Business owners who are faced with this dilemma may scratch their head for a minute and then come up with one of two simple strategies to make more money once they have maxed out their calendar.
Here they are in no particular order.
Idea #1 They get more efficient. Meaning that they see more people in the same amount of time but figure out ways to leverage their time better.
Idea #2 They work more hours. Ouch! No one wants to do that save for a few very sick individuals. (Please get help.)
There is perhaps a third option that business owners employ which is a hybrid of the above two concepts. This is still not going to cut it.
There is another option for business owners to make money.
It comes from leveraging the most important asset that a business owner has at his/her disposal. That asset is time.
The way you leverage that asset is through the creation of physical or digital products.
Some business owners get a little nervous about the concept of creating their own physical products and services. I have found that the root of their nervousness stems from a lack of knowledge on how to best get these products and services produced.
Here’s the great news.
You are already doing a lot of the things necessary to put products and services together, you just haven’t realized it.
Let me give you an example.
Weekly talks on health and wellness. Sounds good so far right?
Here’s where the wheels start falling off the bus.
Most of my clients never record their talks! Ever! These same doctors also give keynotes in other places as well where there are professional A/V teams there to record the talk and they don’t get the recording.
The lesson for you?
You are already creating content that can be used as a physical product or service, you just aren’t thinking strategically.
Here are the product creation opportunities that you are missing currently in your business:
- Speaking- If you work with human beings in a service business, you probably gives talks of some sort. Are you recording these talks? If you were, you could then do a brief edit. You have a lot of reasonably easy to use technology to edit and create video today. Use it.
- Your Process- Do you have a process that you take people through to get them the results that they are looking for? If you do, then you have a product. Here’s the funny thing about people. Not all people want to work with a human being to get the results that they are looking for. I am not saying that’s necessarily good or bad but some people just like to go it alone. Part of this is due to trust. They want to know if you deliver the goods before they plunk down $10k for your coaching program. Smart business owners create a do-it-yourself program because they get revenue from the program from work they already did and they get more people engaged with their service.
- The Components Of Your Overall Process- Here’s the real beautiful thing about being strategic about your product creation. You can break up the process that you use in your business and sell components of that to potential clients. Start by asking this question. What’s the best part of your process (besides you) that you can use as a gateway product to get people in the door? Why the best? You want to blow people away with what you can do and you have one chance to do that. The idea is to get them to keep doing business with you and to share their results with others. Only your best product will do.
- Writing- Have you ever written anything for or about your business? An article for a magazine or a newspaper? Do you blog? All of these vehicles can be used as further products as well. If you blog frequently, can you turn that into a book? You can take a key article that you have written for someone and use that as an introduction to your process.
Those are just four areas that you can look at that are right in front of you. You don’t have to do them all, you can focus on just one area if you would like. Here are some other things that you need to know.
The product doesn’t even have to be something that you charge for but simply makes your work more efficient or gets more people in the door. You can and should use some of your products as free entries into your business for the purpose of upsells.
The other problem that I have seen with clients is once they get the hang of creating products, they create too many. Good problem to have right? The answer is yes and no. In many cases I have worked with clients who were in a state of product overwhelm. Don’t create too many products too soon. You won’t leverage them properly nor give them the chance to be successful.
There are a lot of great opportunities for you to create value in the marketplace for current and future clients as well as increase the revenue of your business without you spending a lot of extra time to do it. It’s time to leverage your time effectively and make a lot more money and spend a lot more time with your families in the process.
You Think You’re Great Now Prove It Thursday, March 24th, 2011
There are a lot of business owners out there, myself included, who don’t lack for confidence. They will tell you whenever they can how great their product/service is and dazzle you with how smart they appear to be. Not all business owners are created equally, however. Customers know this to be true so how do you prove to them that you really are great?
Self aware entrepreneurs will ask the same question. There are times when they will wonder if they are any good? Testimonials and endorsements are a great place to start with building the social proof of how good you are.
I think it’s a given in today’s socially connected society that most business owners reading this understand that testimonials are important. In that same breath, I am amazed at how many of them don’t actually get testimonials from their clients.
The key to getting testimonials, like many other things, is to be intentional about it. Don’t be casual about how you approach clients with these requests. Get some method to your madness. If I am going to put my stamp of approval on something I want to make sure it’s something that others will have a good experience with. I know most people are that way so take it seriously.
Creating the system entails knowing who is going to be in charge of gathering testimonials in your business. Then it becomes a matter of when and how you are going to do this. There is no right or wrong answer. I think that one of the best times to get a testimonial from someone is after you have done something really great for them. You don’t have to ask them right after you did but you might just send them a little note thanking them for being such a great customer and then follow that up with a testimonial request.
The process depends on your business and the culture of you business. I would encourage trying a few different things and seeing what works. One thing I will say as a hard and fast rule is not to offer someone something in exchange for their testimonial. This just cheapens the testimonial and the relationship for that matter.
Once you have testimonials for your business make sure that you use them. I have worked with several companies who just store these away and never display them anywhere. What’s the point of getting them if no one sees them?
Take a look at how your business is bringing social credibility to it. There are several social media outlets that can help you with this as well but testimonials is one of those areas that you can manage better as you typically have a more close, intimate relationship with your actual customers. Take a look at your current system and ask yourself if it helps to prove how good you really are. If not, make some changes.
How To Get Your Process Some Credibility Monday, March 21st, 2011
Despite any success I had ever had in my corporate life, it wasn’t until I went to work with a smaller firm that I actually started meeting people who could help my career. Even then, despite helping to create a NY Times Best Seller campaign, getting a firm on the Inc. 500 list as well as one of Utah’s fastest growing companies, I was still a relative unknown when I decided to go out on my own.
I was definitely worried about credibility when I first started my business which is why I started a blog. After that I was looking for ways to get known. Endorsements are great and I will talk about them next week. Strategic Partnerships are also a great way to expand your reach but I wanted something a little more specific. I didn’t want to tell people or have other people tell them I was good. I wanted to prove it.
What I needed were some case studies.
To start, I put together a list of people that I could potentially help. These were primarily newer business owners as well as some more established thought leaders that I knew needed organizational help.
From there it was just a matter of reaching out to these people and gauging interest. The kicker of the whole program and why it wasn’t hard to get three people to agree was that I was offering my service for charge. My only request was that they let me share the results of the case studies and their thoughts on my process with prospective clients.
The results were great. One client I had been coaching had been previously working with a SCORE representative and had mentioned that my information and help was more up-to-date and effective than the advice that he had been getting.
With three positive case studies in hand I was able to better connect with clients as they could see the type of work that I did in action. It was a great credibility tool. If you are wondering about other specifics of your case study, here’s a great resource.
This advice is great for consultants and thought leaders. If you work in the physical product industry then obviously a free sample of your product works in much the same way. When you are getting started or you are looking to break into a new niche in your business, think about how case studies can help you move your business forward.
Have you used case studies in the past? How have they worked for you?