Having a strong offering mix is a must for every boutique consulting firm or independent consultant that seeks sustainable growth.
If all of your services are low-ticket and you have nothing else to offer to satisfied clients, you end up sacrificing revenue. If all of your engagements are big and relatively expensive, it gets more difficult to acquire new clients who haven't worked with you before. You need to follow a value-ladder approach to consciously create a strong mix.
But today I want to share, based on my experience, what makes a great offering.
There are three main characteristics that every great consulting offering has:
- Specific: It should be unique and reinforce your positioning.
- Clear: It should be easy to understand and easy to sell.
- Potent: It should solve a big and urgent problem.
Specific: Clients Seek Experts, Not Generalists
Good clients always choose specialists over generalists. They are looking for trusted advisors and thought leaders to help solve their clients. When you cover multiple domains for multiple target segments, it's impossible to communicate deep expertise.
Your offering should fit your positioning - your audience must know "this service is effective since this is what they do". This can be done in the form of paid diagnostics and audits, done-for-you services, strategic guidance, and so on.
Products such as a book or online course that reinforces your domain expertise can also be added to your offering mix, and are excellent specific offerings.
Clear: Clients Avoid Risk And Ambiguity
There's nothing wrong with delivering bespoke and customized services. But every successful consulting firm I know has transformed a big part of its expertise into packaged offerings. There are advantages to doing so for both you and your clients.
Your clients seek clarity. They want to know what they're hiring, what they're getting, and how they're getting it. The way you deliver it is by making your offering easy to understand (clear scope, deliverables, and sales copy) and easy to sell (fixed-price, value-based services).
Packaging offerings also benefit you by improving reliability and saving you time. Reducing the number of customized activities and continually improving your methodology and internal systems will help you keep a high-quality standard in your delivery and reduce labor.
Potent: Clients Solve Bigger Problems First
If you use value-based pricing (and you should), the only way to increase your fees without reducing your clients' ROI is to deliver more value. That's why a great offering consists of a big solution to a big problem, instead of small solutions for small problems.
While it is true that not every offering solves a problem - you can also focus on improving the client's situation - all great offerings fix pain. The consultant who makes someone's life easier will make less than the one who saves someone's life. That's why the best offerings feel big and powerful.
It's not about the duration of the engagement - a 4-week engagement can be bigger than a 12-month engagement if it's solving a bigger problem. Indeed, most "big solutions" consist of fewer activities than small offerings. A good tip to find them is to isolate what problems you are the best at solving, and align that with the problems your audience hates the most.