I’ve got a couple of businesses that sell products, tangible products (see, for instance, my collaboration with my wife at www.momsonedge.com). I have to say that marketing products is so much easier than marketing services.
For instance, my wife sent out some samples of our products to some local stores. One out of 5 stores placed an order. That’s a 20% response rate!!!! I’ve never gotten a 20% response rate marketing services. I have an IT services firm as a client who did get 20% — but only when she followed up a series of mailings (not just one) with phone calls and in person visits.
Products are tangible. Prospects can see and touch them and try them out at little or no risk.
The same is not at all true for services — even if you have a great portfolio.
So what does one conclude from this?
First, wherever possible, try to create products! Don’t rely only on a service-based model. For instance, my latest site (not yet live, but you can check it out in early form at www.boxingfitnessinstitute.com) offers some real products, including a certification program with a real certificate, boxing equipment etc.
Second, you have to be more persistent and patient selling services — at least to new prospects who don’t know and trust you yet. It takes time for people to get that “tangible” sense of who you are and what you can do. You have to show true value, back up your claims with proof, and follow up a few times (at least) to continue to build credibility.
Personally, I enjoy consulting, but also enjoy waking up every morning to find out that I sold products while I was sleeping!