6Tired of Competing Part 3

Tired of Competing Part 3: Packages

It seems only natural to bundle together useful products, from high-tech student packages for laptops, software and accessories, to enticing new car deals that include breakdown assistance and insurance, petrol… just about anything can be packaged.

And who doesn’t love a package offer?

They’re often good value and can save hours of shopping around on and offline to find a stockist for each item you need – something that makes packages a handy upselling tool for retailers.

But that’s not all. Satisfy customers with packages that fully meet their needs and a business can establish a reputation as the go-to for a specific solution or desire. Not only does this make a sale more attractive (even irresistible) to buyers, it can make them loyal advocates for the business and nearly impossible for rivals to snare.

As a differentiator then, packages certainly help a business stand out.

But they only work for products, right?

Well, not necessarily. The method is a little different though…

Packaging Products vs Packaging Services

Packaging products is often about convenience; it’s about bundling together items that a customer may need or want to buy at the same time.

Packaging services, on the other hand, is about solving a problem and becoming a one-stop shop, and that requires a shift in mindset. You need to switch from thinking like a service provider with piecemeal service options to thinking like a problem solver with a holistic solution to offer –what the customer wants, and not just what you want to sell.

To do this, you will need to refine and reduce your offering to its core components, and in a way that your clients will recognise and value. You also need to be deeply in tune with your clients, so you know what they will really value being offered as part of that package.

You may need to collaborate with another provider to create a package that can really solve your customers’ problem. If you offer lead generation services, for example, onboarding another business or freelancer that specialises in services outside your capabilities like Pay Per Click or SEO would enable you to offer a far more comprehensive package than if you stuck rigidly to what was within your current skill set.

With the right add-ons not only will your package be more complete, but it can help you lock out your competition too because you can offer something they can’t, that missing piece that could ensure the customer achieves their desired outcome easier, faster and more cost-effectively.

To differentiate your offering even more, incorporate your brand and values in your package – what you stand for, the things you do differently, your unique approach and experience all can be woven in. What I mean to say is, don’t just chuck anything into the bundle just because you think it might be nice. Ideally you want to find the sweet spot between components that your clients will want, but also those which reinforce your firm’s brand and values.

Let’s say as an accountant, you also package in payroll services, or even files and ring binders, that would perhaps fit together. If you give away free cinema tickets or car wash vouchers, then this is nice to have but really only services to confuse your brand and mission.

How to do it right

Beyond the fundamentals, there are a few other things to remember when packaging your services if they are to be effective and profitable:

  • You need a ‘rinse and repeat’ process for the delivery of your service package – your package will not be effective if you have to reinvent the wheel every time you onboard a new client.

  • Make sure you thoroughly research your target market and their pain points, so you create something that solves a problem rather than provides a sticking plaster fix for it.

  • Manage your delivery partnerships with care. Associating yourself with a poor service offering or partner will do more harm than good.

  • Your extras should be optional. Avoid pushy or assumptive over-sales. Let the customer decide for themselves whether they are required.

  • Keep an eye on the numbers. Recognise how each component in the package earns its keep. Which are profitable in their own right and which break-even but are vital to add value to the package? Ensure you have more of the former than the latter, but ultimately every component in the mix should earn its keep in one way or another.

And be mindful not to:

  • Underestimate the worth of your package and under charge. Think about the value your customers gain from your service and reflect this in your pricing alongside the material costs of fulfilment.

  • Let the extras draw focus away or create confusion from your core message. Customers cannot see or touch a service like they can a physical product so make sure your offering is clearly defined and concise in its delivery.

Done well, packages can add huge value to your offering and cement customer relationships. Done badly they can complicate your offering and make customers feel you are somewhat gilding the lily! Read about the dangers of Overchoice, in one of my other posts here.

We’ve explored the benefits and best practices, but how do packages help you break free from that competitive cycle?

In a similar way to niching, packaging your services allows you to narrow your focus, so you target a specific subset of the market, with a specific solution to meet their needs. Do this well, and you can avoid going toe-to-toe with rivals competing in the broader market space.

Moreover, as consumers are already primed to the benefits of packages, a business that offers them is often far more appealing than one that does not because of the associated value they provide.

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