How a specialist accountancy service is packaged can make the difference between it grabbing the attention of potential clients or losing their interest.
Product or service packaging is essentially about presentation. How do you explain what a buyer will get for their money in a clear, compelling way?
It’s arguably easier to package products than services – or at least it used to be, before we all became mobile-phone-using, eBook-reading, Netflix-streaming Spotify-listeners.
We’re all used to the idea of intangible services being bundled together. And, increasingly, as more services are delivered via apps and online, we’re also used to those being packaged, bundled and branded, too.
The great success of firms such as Uber and Airbnb is they were able to present services that had been around for years – taxi cabs and holiday lets – in neat, easy-to-understand packages.
Why package accountancy services?
Put yourself in the shoes of a potential client looking at the list of services you offer for the first time – how long is the list they’re looking at? Ten, 20, 30 or more? It’s easy to see how that might be overwhelming.
The traditional answer has been to say, “Give us a call to discuss your needs”, which still has its place. In some cases, though, I think clients read that as an attempt to lure them into an unnecessary sales discussion when they’re after a simply transactional relationship.
And when the competition is offering neat, easy-to-understand service packages, it’s easy to see how a more complicated offer might lose out – even if it’s actually a better service.
What packaging does is reduce the amount of information a potential buyer has to process.
It answers their questions before they’re asked, removing reasons to say “No”, and moves them a step closer to making a decision.
It makes their lives simpler.
An example of a packaged service
Let’s say the service you want to package is part of, or even the centrepiece, of your core offer.
If you focus primarily on processing tax returns, for example, your new service might be a version of that designed for a specific market.
That’s the case for PracticeWeb client UK Landlord Tax, a firm specialising in working with rental property owners. They’re in a position to serve that niche as the owners are landlords themselves.
Their website offers a great example of how packaging can work in practice, breaking down that core offer into individual bundles for specific subsections of their overall target market.
The packages take shape by combining service and audience, much like PracticeWeb offers website design (service) for accountants (audience).
Look at the service page for single-property landlords, for example, which users typically find through a Google search.
It starts with clear concise copy that answers a prospective buyer’s headline questions right off the bat:
- Is this for me? The copy mentions single-property landlords.
- How will it solve my problems? It promises fast, easy, good value tax returns.
- What’s the fee? Pricing is simple and set out on the page.
- What’s included at that price? Each price point has bullet points setting out clear terms.
- Is it a good quality service? User reviews and testimonials are displayed on page.
- How do I buy in? There are multiple contact buttons and forms on the page to get in touch.
To name or not to name
One thing people often get bogged down in is how they name their packages.
There are lots of good reasons for naming bundles or tiers, from reinforcing your brand to subtly influencing decision making, but it’s arguably the least important part of the process for accountants.
When it comes to digital marketing, with search engines in mind, you can generally do worse than using the kind of language people use to search online, eg ‘VAT returns for shops’.
Keep it simple, keep it clear.
Test your packages before launch
You’d be surprised how often user-testing and market research can prompt a change of direction in service packaging.
The easiest approach is to get a group of existing clients to provide feedback on your proposed packages.
Present them in as finished a state as you can manage, either on a draft web page or nicely laid out slide deck.
Then, ask specific questions – ideally the same questions to each test subject.
Some example questions might be:
- How much does this package cost per month?
- How appealing is this package on a scale of one to five, where one is “Not appealing at all”?
- What would stop you signing up for this package?
You’re not after approval or a pat on the back – you want to flush out potential problems and anything that might cause a potential buyer to walk on by.
Four basic rules for packaging services
First, make it easy to digest. Remember the one fashionable concept of the elevator pitch? Aim for something punchy enough that you could explain it to someone in 20 seconds. And if you need lots of footnotes and caveats, go back to the drawing board and simplify the offer.
Secondly, be specific. Be clear about what you get – for example, your budget package might include only one phone call per month and one face-to-face meeting per year.
Thirdly, use simple language. It helps with clarity (see above) and is also often more appealing and engaging. Producing package descriptions is one area where professional copywriting can really help.
Finally, avoid making assumptions about what the potential client does and doesn’t know. Avoid jargon, spell out abbreviations, state the obvious.
Learn more about developing your practice’s offer with our free guide to packaging, marketing and pricing.