Episode 40

How to Productize Your Consulting Business with Online Courses

In your consulting business you are accustomed to approaching each client with personalized services, but there is a more streamlined, scalable method that may work for you. Today our LMScast podcast with Joshua Millage and Christopher Badgett is about how to productize your consulting business with online courses. We will also tell you how to serve more clients and make extra income by down-selling. First, let’s define what we mean by productizing your services.

If you look at what you do for most clients, you will see similarities in the services you provide. Most of the information you give them is static. Your expertise is in knowing how to apply what you know to their situation. Productizing your consulting simply means packaging solutions into sets of services that are applicable to specific needs and targeting each package to 80% of the clients who need that approach. Unlike the custom service you provide now, clients have a limited set of choices based on what most clients need.

Productizing your services is an option that can save you time and effort while increasing your returns if you can standardize and package at least some of your services. Productizing will also give you a greater capacity for providing individualized consulting to clients who truly need it.

There is another level of clients that you have simply lost in the past – those who cannot afford your professional fees. Offering online courses provides them with the option of taking your courses for a significantly reduced fee. Maybe they can’t afford to pay you $2,000 to personally assist them, but they can probably afford $200 to learn how to help themselves. Down-selling this way opens a new source of income for your business.

You could even offer a free introductory course as a lead generation tool to help clients see why your service is well worth the fees you ask. Once they know what is involved in what you do, they will have a better grasp of the value of your expertise and will be more willing to pay you what you are worth.

Building an online course is not difficult, especially with a course development platform like our LifterLMS WordPress learning management system plugin. You can put together a complete course in one or two weekends and start generating extra income. The learning management system takes care of processing payments and progressing users through courses. Once you set it up, your direct involvement is minimal.

For further information about how to productize your consulting business with online courses, you can hear an interview with Damian Thompson about productized services at Tropical MBA. You can also try a demo of LifterLMS and see for yourself what it can do for you.

Remember that you can post comments and also subscribe to our newsletter at LMScast.com for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

And if you’re an already successful expert, teacher or entrepreneur looking to grow, check out the LifterLMS team’s signature service called Boost. It’s a complete done for you set up service where your learning platform goes live in just 5 days.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Josh Millage: Hello, Everyone, welcome back with another episode of LMScast. I’m Joshua Millage, and I’m joined with Christopher Badgett, and today we’re talking about how to monetize your consulting business if you are a consultant. So, Chris, take it away, Buddy.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. Well, we’ve created three other podcast episodes about how to monetize your “X” with online courses. So, what we’ve done already, we have an episode on how to do it for book authors or authors, we’ve done it for bloggers, and we’ve done it for podcasters. So this is for the consultants out there, of how to monetize your consulting business with online courses.

But I think the conversation starts around productized service, and defining what that is. A productized service is a more repeatable, scalable version of your custom client work, if you will, where you can plug other people into the process. You say ‘no’ to things that are outside of the scope, whereas in your previous version, you may have said ‘yes’ to anything or whatever. You can really define and package up your service offering and make it really black and white. That’s kind of what productizing a service is. Do you have anything to add?

Josh Millage: No. I mean, I think it’s really hard to productize a service, but actually the best productized service I have ever seen in my life is when I got the intro recorded for Infusioncast. Tim Paige, TimThePaige is his website, he has a really awesome process, where he had his VA call me and do a pre-interview, and then I’m sure they’re using a Trello board or something and picking out music, and then they ping me to pick out the music, and then went back to him, and then he recorded.

It was really well done. So I think there’s certain productized services like that, which are pretty linear. I think a lot of consultants do a lot of exploration and discovery on how to solve their clients’ problems, and so, in those situations, what I would say is that, “Shoot for 80%.” And then when you make the course, speak to that 80% and talk about caveats.

In this lesson, there’s a portion where it’s on you to kind of figure out how you apply this. There’s nothing wrong with saying that, it’s making it known, because when you don’t say stuff like that, then you get into the shady internet marketing world, where it’s like, “You just copy and paste my methodology, and it’ll do x, y, and z for you.” And a lot of times, it doesn’t always work that way. So I think when you’re open and honest about how, “Hey, I’m telling you this, now it’s on you to really work through how to apply it,” people respond well, and it works well. That’s my two cents.

Chris Badgett: Absolutely. That’s cool to think about a productized service in that way, and I want to just mention another one I saw from the people over at the WPcast podcast. It’s for WordPress folks. One of the hosts of that show has a productized service around building websites that run podcasts, and it was a new thing he was exploring, he’d just launched it, I forget the name of it, or I’d give you the URL.

Josh Millage: Was it podcast websites?

Chris Badgett: Yeah, websites for podcasts. It was a productized service, I believe it cost $1,000 or $2,000 or something. If you want to see an example, I think it’s called PodWP or something, go check it out.

So, if you’re a consultant, and you want to productize your service, there’s a couple of reasons to do that. One is to make your business more scalable, and two is to make it so that – Sometimes in the work we’ve done and as a web designer, if somebody can’t afford our services, or someone can’t afford your services, or whatever, it’s cool to send people to an online course that can still add value to what they’re trying to get done. Now that could be a paid course. It could be your cheapest service offering instead of hiring you directly to do something is to teach that person how to do something through a paid course, which isn’t as good as the custom, “I’m going to work with you directly” thing, but maybe your paid course is still pretty good and helps them achieve the desired outcome. They’re just going to have to do more of the work themselves.

Or it could be a free course that you just give away, and now that becomes a powerful tool for lead generation. It gives you a platform to demonstrate your expertise. It gives you an opportunity to educate your customers on what it actually is that you do, which often helps in closing a sale, because they may not realize the complexity of what it is you’re offering, and are wondering why you’re so expensive, and then once they get into your course, they’re like, “Oh.” This has happened to me before where someone has gone through a web design course I’ve created, they build it up to a certain level, and then they’re like, “All right, I need to hire the professionals now to do it.” So that’s been my experience with using online courses as a consultant.

Josh Millage: That’s awesome. No, that’s a really good idea, and I think what’s cool about a tool like LifterLMS is you can actually make it a pretty dynamic sales funnel, because you could have an email triggered when they complete certain pieces of the course, and so when that email is triggered, you could actually be pushing them to sign up for a phone call or something like that. And you’re doing it based on their behavior, so you can offer a certain offer at the beginning versus an offer at the end, because you know, “Well, someone who’s at the end of the course is more engaged than someone who’s at the beginning of the course,” and so you can do different things when you start to think through it that way.

So it is a very – I mean, LifterLMS is … Beyond being a learning management system, it’s a way dynamic follow-up/sales funnel tool, just depending on how you think about it, which is really, really cool. I think it’s amazing, man, and I think a lot of consultants are sitting on a gold mine, if they could just make the time, take the time, I should say, to create the course. If they could take the time to create the course, they could see their income rapidly increase, because they’re using the power of the internet to scale the knowledge that they have.

Also, the other thing I want to say that consultants never think about is down-sells. So we all know about up-sells, like in the sales process, how do we up-sell you into some other product or service offering that’s a little bit more premium, or a cross-sell, where it’s a complimentary product. No one thinks of down-sells. No one thinks, “Oh, Chris, I can’t afford your service.” Well, you’re right, you can’t afford my service- Let’s just imagine the conversation. “Okay, so you can’t afford my retainer package, two grand a month. Well, I have this course for two hundred dollars.” It’s a tenth of the cost, but it’s still the same amount of value, the difference is you have to do everything. You’d probably- I mean, you’re letting money go if you don’t have something like that, because a percentage of the people are going to go, “Yes,” and that’s two hundred bucks that you grab and put in your pocket.

Chris Badgett: That’s a really good point. Everybody thinks about the up-sell, but not the down-sell.

Josh Millage: No one thinks about the down-sell. I’m always thinking about down-sells. I get- In sales, the “yes’s” and “no’s” are what you want to hear, “maybe’s” kill you. But-

Chris Badgett: That’s a great point.

Josh Millage: Yeah. “Maybe’s” do kill you, because you never know where you sit. You just want to know. It takes energy to sit on a ‘maybe’. I always push people, like, “Hey, Chris, let me shoot you straight.” This is actually how, when I get to a point where I’m in a ‘maybe’, I just go for the jugular. “Chris, let me ask you a question. What’s it going to take to earn your business?” And I’ll just say it like that, and people will be like, “Whoa, okay.”

I don’t think it’s disrespectful when you ask it like that, because you could say- I mean, I’m a business owner, you’re a business owner, I say, “From one business owner to the next, what’s it going to take to win your business?” And they’re like, “Well, the cost is off.” Perfect. Cost is off? Not a big deal. “Well, okay, I’ve got a course for $200 where you can buy, and you can have your assistant go through that course. You don’t even have to worry about it, she’ll get trained up and be able to execute what I’m talking about. Now, you don’t get me at two grand, but you get all the knowledge that I have, and the difference is, you need to execute on it with someone in your company, but I’ve seen your company, I think you’ve got some talented people, and I really think this would be a great option for you.” “Wow, okay.”

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome.

Josh Millage: So you took them down. And again, you’ll still have “no’s” there, but to not try that is crazy. For most consultants, that’s a Saturday or two Saturdays of putting that course together, and that could be a huge profit center in their sales process.

Chris Badgett: Well, cool. Just to give people one more action of what you should do if this episode is resonating with you right now, I give you two steps. One is check out the demo of LifterLMS, that’s at LifterLMS.com, and if you’re feeling it, grab yourself a copy of the plugin. The next is to- I want to refer you to another resource. We’re a part of the WordPress community where people share, and we help out on other podcasts, and that sort of thing. I want you to check out- You’ll just need to do a Google search and look for the, “Tropical MBA podcast” and look for an interview that was done with Damian Thompson about productized services. It’s a great resource to really get your head wrapped around that.

So if you get a copy of LifterLMS and go listen to that episode on the Tropical MBA with Damian Thompson, you’ll be ready to take this idea and run with it.

Josh Millage: Awesome. Well that’s a great way to end this episode. Thank you everyone for listening. Hit us up on Twitter, @LifterLMS, or you can reach me personally at @JMillage, and Chris, what’s your Twitter handle?

Chris Badgett: @ChrisBadgett.

Josh Millage: Right on. All right. Have a great day.

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