3 critical questions to ask when designing your service offers

by Tiina Wilen

When putting together your design service offers, you need to ask yourself many critical questions. In this article, I’m sharing 3 of the most important questions.

Question 1: What type of business do you want? 

  • For some, it’s high-touchpoint, high-value, private expert consulting, custom-made design work.
  • For some, it’s the community, togetherness, big volumes, and maybe educational work.
  • For some, it’s hands-off, as passive as possible.
  • For some, it’s all about team effort.

And so on…

When you build your design offers, you need to decide what kind of a business you really want. You need to decide what price point you want to offer. There are really no exact rules to this, other than this:

If you want to be accessible for many, for example by keeping your prices low, you need to focus on volumes. You can’t grow a business with this combination:

low price + low volumes.

If you want to go low price, you need to ramp up both your delivery capacity (turn into group model, scalable deliveries, team, bulk manufacturing, etc…) AND your marketing efforts. Low price + high volume is the name of your game then. 

If you prefer low volumes, intimate, personal offers, the only way to do that is with high prices. This is your game then: 

high price + low volumes.

If you want to be high price + high volumes, that is doable too, but not solo. You need to build a team that takes care of your customers, offering them the high touchpoint, high-value service that you want your company to be known for. 

Here are a few questions we need to figure out when making these complex decisions for your service offers:

  • What do you really want? You might think you want to have a massive business, but when you are set on the journey, you might realize you, in fact, want something totally different. Or, maybe you right now want a solo business where you handle all the deliveries, but after a while, you might start longing to become a business owner, instead of an employee in your own business.
  • How much money are you planning to make? And what that can cost you?
  • Who will be part of your team? You solo? Or a small but mighty team of designers, assistants, customer care professionals, sales and marketing experts? Or, do you want a big team, offices in many locations?
  • What’s your role? What do you actually want to do in your business and what you do not want to do?

Then there’s the stage of your business… when you grow and scale, your offer strategy is changing, too. 

growth stage

When you get started with a new business, you might want to prefer low volume + high price. It’s the best way to get into the market and validate the idea. And… to make that money you need. At this stage, your effort should go into creating an offer that’s irresistible for the chosen customer group and designing a simple, effective system to sell and deliver it.

Scaling stage

When you scale, you most likely (not always, but often) need a scalable front-end and a premium back-end structure. And a pathway, or avenue as we call it. At the Scale Stage, you need to implement a scalable product suite with the right infrastructure that allows you to scale it.

So, your first set of big questions: what kind of business do you want? What fits your personality? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? What working style works for your life situation? Then: what’s your current stage? Are you ready to scale or are you figuring out your sales? Focus on what matters at the stage where you’re at!

Question 2: what type of customers do you want (and what do they want)?

You see, there are a bunch of different types of people, and just by saying “I serve everyone” or “creatives” or “those with money” (although we can’t say we don’t love them…), that’s not enough to be able to create the type of delivery model that suits your customers.

Your second set of big questions: Do you know and respect what your customers really want and design an experience that makes them happy and successful with whatever you help them with? And are you willing to repel customers who “must have that thing you don’t want to offer?”

Question 3: What type of assets do you have at your disposal? 

At Avenue, we talk about the 9 Key Growth Assets that every growing and scaling business need to build, at the right stage on its journey. The two critical assets are your client acquisition assets and your audience assets. If you have a low-priced offer, you need high volumes. High volumes require a high marketing budget, regardless of whether you use time or money to build your client base. So, if you already have a big audience you can tap into, then offering a low-priced product could work for you. If you have no such audience, offering a low-priced product will kill your profit margins. 

Unless… of course… you have a premium back-end offer in place. 

Your third big question: Do you have the resources available to build that kind of an audience you need, in terms of the volumes your business needs, right now?

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