The past few months have been hard on everyone. There was a huge wave of companies that were forced to go remote, which oftentimes completely changed their work processes (this, in particular, didn’t affect us since we’ve been remote from day one). Many still had to downsize their teams, because of low demand. Finally, many businesses are shrinking their marketing and investment budgets and putting design in the background.
We’ve had some time to think about how we can adapt to this situation. We even had the opportunity to talk to some of our past clients and get their feedback. While brainstorming, we came up with two main showstoppers when starting a design project with an agency – the budget and time necessary to start the project.
To counter both of those issues at the same time we launched Growth by Melewi – a productized design offering for growing companies.
What does this solve?
As a design agency, our usual project lifecycle looks something like this –
- We receive a project inquiry
- We have an intro call, where we discuss the client’s requirements, needs and goals
- We estimate the project
- We wait for approval or negotiate if needed until we reach an agreement
- We kick off the project with our series of workshops and move on to our sprint structure.
As you can see, from the initial inquiry to the actual start, there’s a 2-week span, at least. This can be a challenge both for our clients, who might be on a tight deadline, and for us since we’re spending company time in back-and-forth communication.
With our productized offering, the new workflow looks more like this –
- A company signs up for one of our subscription tiers.
- We add them to a private Slack channel, Trello board, and Dropbox folder.
- They continuously submit their design requests as they appear, we work on those requests and submit the finished design assets.
That’s it. The private slack channel will be used for a faster communication, our clients can follow the project status on Trello, and the design assets will be waiting for them in the Dropbox folder.
What about the budget part?
Our usual process means that our designers are involved in any given project from start to finish. They have direct communication with our clients and participate in client reviews. This doesn’t scale well. Instead, by having several subscribers submit design requests, we can better streamline the process and have designers change between projects. This is also how we’re able to bring our price down.
Pros and Cons of having a productized design service.
Productizing our service is by no means a silver bullet. There are specific design services from our portfolio that we can offer in that context and with the above-described workflow. For now, those are longterm/continuous web and mobile design needs, frontend development, deck design, logo & brand design, and marketing collaterals.
We’ll still have our Melewi agency side, where we work together with clients to design fully featured web and mobile apps. But for faster turnaround and design requests that don’t need our product strategy capabilities, this should be the perfect solution.
In case you’re thinking of productizing your service, here are a few of the benefits and drawbacks we considered, when we came up with Growth by Melewi.
- Faster turnaround = more sales – as I explained above, the inquiry-to-project-start time is greatly reduced, saving us time explaining our service and what’s involved. This time can be put in spreading the word for our subscription product.
- Simplified payment – instead of estimating every new project, our clients will know exactly what they need to pay and what they’ll get in return. On the other hand, we’ll have a more predictable income stream.
- Streamlined process – also mentioned above, optimizing the internal process through an economy of scale.
- More room for growth through better scalability.
Sounds compelling. Still, before going down that road you should also consider some downsides.
- You’re service/product will be less personalized – streamlining your service means you’ll have to put a lot of the things you do into a template. It simply doesn’t scale to offer custom solutions for everyone. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, you’ll just have to accept that some customers will need a more flexible solution or will expect to be nurtured, so this offering won’t be suitable for them.
- If you completely swap your service-based offering to a product, your existing customer base might not be happy. They’ll be used to receive work from you in a specific way and this new workflow might not fit their process.
- There’ll be a higher initial time investment until you figure things out. We’re still in this phase since we’ve launched Growth by Melewi just a few weeks ago. It’s an entirely new process that requires new internal systems that’ll automate the workflow as much as possible.
As always, let us know what you think about our new offering! We’ll be happy to also share any tips on how to productize your service.
We’ve also launched on Product Hunt – any upvotes are greatly appreciated!