The illusion of the no-cost service expansion

The illusion of the no-cost service expansion

Your service list. It does not cost you anything. So why not?

As long as these services are in line with your expertise, you keep multiplying all these "whats" that your firm can provide.

After all, if the markets are slow, and opportunity not-so-abundant, that seems like a smart thing to do.

When done right, you may even avoid a problem of all these services blurring your focus and weakening positioning. But that's not the point.

Here's the kicker — the thing is, the no-cost is an absolute illusion.

Before we get there, here's a story.

Because I didn't imagine it. It's all observation. (Yes, looking at you, kid!)

I'm chatting with a pal and visiting their website. Not a bad one. Nice copy here and there. It's giving me some good vibes. It's an established firm. A classic type of business. No innovation in the business model, and that's fine — for now.

I'm having a bit of a problem understanding their sweet spot and focus.

I arrive at services. And the list reminds me a credit roll following a blockbuster movie. OK, why not? It is perfectly logical to put all the "What's" they can produce putting to work their studio setup and infrastructure.

Or, is it?

Well, once you start thinking from a perspective of taking it a step further, the illusion bursts. Who's buying each of these services?

A quick look shows that it's at least a few groups of clients.

All of them with different needs, and each of them requiring a different game to be played.

It's not only about marketing these services — although that's a challenge on its own.

It's mastering each game separately.

It's having a process to guide the client through the engagement, instead of taking a rollercoaster, one brief at a time.

That's where the real cost comes in.

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It's like clothing. It's like watches.

The goods are physically the same, but the thing clients actually buy, change drastically depending on the context. The same watch can be a time measurement device, status, or adventure. B2C brands know it long time.

B2B service brands play a laggard's game.

So what's the real cost?

If for every service you offer, you take the client and generously put them on a driver seat (that's essentially what happens where you have no designed and tested process), you're paying with an absolute lack of predictability of these engagements. If you're charging for outcomes under a fixed model — you're jeopardizing your bottom line.

If you're charging inputs — well, not much loss, right?


Even if they pay every hour, your cost is leaving money on the table, leaving better clients at the door, and leaving better relationships out of your reach.

To put it straight, you're paying for it with your future.

OK, that's rough.

So here comes the empathy and compassion chapter.

Yes, I know you can't really see that. Maybe, because you have a comfy seat at your firm's board?

Yes, I know it seems to you, that you may need all these services. Maybe It's because you're lacking priority, courage or perspective to read your bottom line records and see a pattern in the noise. Not easy, if all you're seeing is your own data. Founders know what they know — and so they excel in blindness. Great founders know, what they don't know, and are smart enough to borrow someone else's eyes.

Yes, when the markets are a slow or standstill, it seems intuitive to broaden the offering. But it isn't.

I'm not advocating for having narrow list of services.

What I'm advocating for is having the service scope that makes sense for your business, provided that you mastered each of the games and are a confident driver of the engagement. Because that control translates 1:1 to profitability.

The only case where gambling makes sense is… when you own the house.

For the record — Yes, your case is absolutely unique. And no, you're not alone.

I've seen these problems over and over. Enough times to make service structure diagnostics and restructuring part of my offering.

OK, today's insight could have landed a bit rough.

But it's in good faith and will open your eyes for a better path.

So take your time to process it.

Stay prolific, and till the next one.

Thank you for reading Futurecrafting™. This post is public so feel free to share it.


Thinking bigger, seeing farther, making impact. Insights into building and evolving creative businesses and B2B brands. Coming at you from "the fast thinker", Patrick Kizny. #b2b #branding #marketing #creative