Offering Extra Services Can Get Product Managers Through Tough Times

by drjim on July 22, 2009

Product Managers Need To Take Their Service Offerings To The Next Level <br> <div xmlns:cc="http://creativecommons.org/ns#" about="http://www.flickr.com/photos/expressmonorail/2247917571/"><a rel="cc:attributionURL" href=It’s time for some creative product manager thinking. Times are tough, our customers are strapped for cash and yet we’d like to keep sales of our products at least at where they are if not boost them a bit. No matter if your product is a service or a “real” product, there’s something that you can do to sweeten the pot for your potential customers – offer more services.

Why More Services Work

Even in tough economic times customers are still buying lots of things. The trick for a good product manager is to come up with things that will get potential customers off the fence of indecision and onto your list of existing customers. One way to make this happen is to increase the perceived value of what they would be getting if they buy your product.

No matter what type of product you are responsible for, a service or a tangible product, you can boost its value by adding additional services to what you are offering. When prospective customers are faced with the combined value of both your product and these additional services, hopefully it will be enough to get them to dig out their wallets and make a purchase.

What Types Of Services Should You Offer?

Almost every product already comes with some sort of service offering. Adding additional services should be easy for any product manager to do. Just exactly what these additional services will look like depends on what your product is. However, here are a few service suggestions that will work for most products:

  • Reports: I personally like offering free reports to my customers because they are viewed as being high value by just about everyone. The reports should be 15-30 pages long (any longer any nobody will read them) and they should deal with a single issue in depth.
  • Consulting Services: Having access to experts is something that most customers will quickly see value in. Not only will this be seen as an added value, but it may also help to reduce a customer’s fear of not being able to get the maximum value out of your product after they have bought it.
  • Videos: Welcome to the 21st Century – reading is so yesterday. Offering your customers access to videos of some sort, training, demonstration, or interviews with experts can be an instant winner.

Final Thoughts

As is the case with all Product Manager tools, offering extra services to your customers can be a two-edged sword. Product managers need to keep a close eye on your firm’s staff – offering additional services can start to overload staff. Do this too much and as the economic situation starts to improve you could start to see a company-wide brain drain.

Additionally, your prospective customers could start to become too comfortable with your product offerings and may start to expect extra services to be included with all of your products, all of the time. Breaking them of this habit could turn out to be difficult to do.

In the end, product managers need to take the time and do their homework in order to work out the incremental cost of offering extra services. Figure out how to do this and you will have found out how great product managers make their product(s) fantastically successful.

Questions For You

Are you seeing that more of your prospective customers are taking longer to make a buying decision? Have you considered adding extra services to your product offering? What types of services are you thinking about offering? How has this worked out for you? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As product managers we are tempted to look to our competition for guidance on what we should be doing when things get tight. However, maybe that’s the wrong thing to do. Instead, maybe this is when some of that “outside of the box” thinking might come in handy. Who could show us the way? Maybe a grocery store?

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