I had written articles in the past on professional servicestitled “Customising Professional Services”and “Should Professional Services have an MRP”.As I was exploring contemplating on the title for my next topic on professional services, I was initiated into this discussion of that “most professionals while performing and rendering services try to hard to sellservices in this competitive market; but what they do is, sell only those services that are available or taught in the books andwhich are predominantly a traditional business”. The fact is there are multiple opportunities for a professional to market a product; whereas to market their professional services there are not too many opportunities and thus arises a need to productise a service. Any FMCG product is easier to market with a lovely wrapper and a great brand, whereas professional service which may require personalised skills and expertise is increasingly becoming difficult to marketin this competitive environment; hence professional servicesmay requires productising and creating a brand before such services are ready tomarketthem .
It may be pertinent to note that certain services that seem commonbut have become unique products on account of efficient marketing, have been well received by the customers who are willing to pay a fancy price for such services. The example for this service is a simple product in yoga that teaches one the technique of breathing,has become a cult and turned out to be a money spinner and thus has become a successful product. This success is inspite of the fact that all of us know how to breathe!! All that an institution did was, to come up with a brilliant product by informingits audience as to the techniques of how to breathe in a systematic manner. This in today’s parlance is a classic case of converting a service into a product. There are multiple examples of institutions that practice yogathat hasconvertedthese simple practices of breathing which is is in the form of a personalized services and have branded these services into products such as“KapalapathiKapalabhati” or a “sudarshanakriya”. This is innovating at its best; air is free, the process is common, a technique that is known, but it took an institution the task to educate its audience the effective way to breathe and live and thus converted these activity process as services and in turn offer these services as products.
It is easy to sell services in the form of a product than be known as a firm or professional who that renders the run of the mill services. It is how differently one thinksin about customising their services and pricing such services that lead to productising the servicetheservices. In the accounting world, a service that has become a product in the recent times is the XBRL related service which got the status of a product.
Our brains -Can we improvise?
As a professional, most of us do what we know the best on account of our professional background and try to be in the traditional space; most of us takeno risk or little risk to tread into a new path. If one professional is doing the same thing as everyone else is doing,the questionfor is - why you? A professional has to be always vigilant to know on what is a market ready, whichone has to do a brain searching on what the market has to offer and not topursue and follow services where a market already exists. This allows a professional to be innovative and creative in what he wants to deliver to the market. How many of us have applied our thought in trying to understand how different marketing a professional service is compared to that of a product? We all educate and equip ourselves with a professional course but it takes a few successful individuals to make it big in the field of service industry and if we are wondering what the differentiator is,it is successful professionals or entrepreneurs convert these services into products and effectively market itfor commercial purposes. One needs to be different and to be different,every professional should think of applying the same learning in a profession into a form that everyone understands and needs.
Break the rules
To move into the new space one needs to create rules and to do this, one has to break the existing rules, that apparently govern what is right and what is apt for a normal professional to enter into the market. To do this one needs to be passionate in creating a difference in their offering to audiences and after launching the service, allow the service to mature into a product. The next thing is the ability to stick through ups and downs of this offering and here comes the issue of sustainability in the market for this product to mature. Converting a service into product requires patience to shift through many ideas, validate them and launch them in the market. There are a set of rules that are laid in every profession which is always the right way of doing things. Every other professional knows how to do it and what he should do as a professional,as they have alreadybeen laid out in the rules of the professional body. By being different and delivering the same serviceor by altering the existing structure but adding value, is breaking the rules of the game. The differentiator here is the value addition in the services at the cost of breaking the rule.
Make good and do good
Any professional service to hit the bulls eye requires individuality and to achieve this the service that seemingly looks similar, has to be different. This difference which is visible only to the ultimate customer is individuality;. put Put in very simple terms, a professional creates this service by specializing in this space. By creating a value addition in the services, you do well for the profession and yourself;and this enhances the visibility of the service in the eyes of the audience; and in turn you dowell by increasing your brand in the market. You do well for yourself by making creating a good thepathway for a service isto reachedto the end user.
Out of the box thinking
A professional service that has matured into a product will ensure payback if andonly if it is an out of the box thinking- it has to be different from other similar services. The primary focus should always bethat any service has to be different and should not be of the run of the mill variety;. in In fact one should keep innovating by re-inventing the wheel and putting the old wine but into a new bottle. The packaging of services should be productized based on the times and based on the needs and trends of the end user and to achieve this objective,one has to think out of box. The service should be more appealing and contextual when it is launched in the market. Imagine the number of schemes available for investment; all of which would have a small difference in the returns but it is the trust, the brand that matters in the market. The same logic is applicable to a professional service. The consumer knows what is available as an end product and the differentiator can be the delivery levels promising to render a service. While being an out of the box thinker, a professional should still have the basics right in not compromising on the Quality of Service and the delivery issues which hold the keys to success.
A visionary to think ahead of times
A successful professional is one who is a good entrepreneur. A good entrepreneur is one who is a visionary and who is capable of thinking ahead of times.As an enterprising professional, one should fix a deadline of 2020 and keep working towards it rather than rendering a servicewhich everyone is chasing in the current time and at the same time. This ensures that the professional stays ahead of competition and by staying ahead one will keepthe competitor guessing and will always be ahead of times.
It is very important that a good service should be productised to suit the current trends and one should try to innovate the service with frills that are in sync with the times. In Governance, the principle followed is that of “Comply or Explain” whereasin a profession; one has to follow the principle of “Innovate or Perish”.
Where value is created and destroyed
There aremultiple instances when good services in the form of products are launched by various Institutes of multiple discipline and on account of the misuse by professionals of these products in the form of undercutting or low pricing, the value that was intended to be created by the institutions is getting destroyed by the professionals themselves. There was aproduct in the form of a Due diligence certificate for Companies to be issued by certain professionals which was introduced by the Reserve Bank of India, it so happened that the professionals started charging less and converted this premium product as a mass product and in the process charged very low fees, resulting in apremium productbeing systematically destroyed by the professionals andalongwith it the purpose and value that was created by the institution Institution.
In conclusion, every professional should realise that rendering a professional servicepurely based on opportunity isa no brainer; whereas a competency that we can leverage out of the said service, isa brainer. Selling or Marketing a service is normal but what it takes to differentiate any professional service is to sell the service in the form of a product. Let us as visionaries identify the true protential of any service and productise such services to create optimum value.