I have been thinking about what it takes to convert your expertise from a consulting gig into a product.
That brings up the question: What is a “product”? What makes up a product?
A product is more than “just” a standardized version of what you used to deliver as custom solutions – although that part is hard enough.
Let’s look at two examples:
Example 1: Converting A Custom Software Solution Into An Off-The-Shelf Software Product
Let’s assume we are talking about complex software with many features used by large organizations. No two organizations have the exact same needs.
Can you build a product in this case? Yes, you can. Yet, you will need to train and quite possibly certify partners/consultants who adapt the off-the-shelf (OTS) software to the specific needs of each client.
The advantage is that the core OTS product is the same for all customers. It is supported, documented, more affordable, more extensively tested, and so on.
The Product Itself Is Not Enough
That also means you need to not only build the product itself. You also need to invest resources into these areas:
- Release Process
Your team is used to developing solutions – custom ones. If you want to productize your services you and your team need to shift to building standard solutions. That is a significant shift in mindset. Your team may also not be thinking about the other items in the list above that make up a real software product.
Example 2: Converting Business Consulting Services Into A Product
John Warrillow is the founder of The Value Builder System™. It is a software system for building the value of a company. It is marketed as “software built for advisors – attract, benchmark, and build value.” It is marketed primarily to business advisors although business owners can also get direct access to the system.
To build the Value Builder System into a product John and his team
- Built a system that identifies 8 value drivers.
- Designed a test assessing the current value of a given company.
- Built software to deliver the Value Builder system to advisors and business owners.
- Created processes, infrastructure and collateral to market and sell, and support clients with the Value Builder system.
- Created marketing assets for the advisors to use: videos, presentation templates, podcasts, white papers, webinars, and articles. Advisors can share these resources with their clients via blogs, social media, email campaigns or via embedding them in their own websites.
- A dashboard, reports and presentations, an ROI calculator and so on.
- An advisor community and a learning center.
In other words, they refined the tools they would use for their own clients into a system that advisors can use for their clients.
There is an infrastructure that has to be supported and documented.
There is training for the advisors, and training for employees who market, sell and support.
Sounds Like a Lot! Is It Worth It?
Yes! I wrote another Brilliance Nuggets about the benefits of productizing your services.
Imagine the difference in leverage between John Warrillow having a small company consulting with clients and acting as their advisor. He could serve as many (or as few) clients as he and his staff could handle.
Compare that to training thousands of advisors who incorporate his system into their practices. By productizing, John expanded his impact. I’m positive that he also makes much more money on certifying other advisors and getting annual fees in exchange for them using his branded system.
Things that are worth doing do not always come easy. In a way that is good. It protects you from competitors who are not as gung-ho and passionate as you are!
Which expertise of yours can you build into a product?