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Time to Revitalize Services Portfolio

11 Jun, 2008 By: William K. Pollock imageSource

Time to Revitalize Services Portfolio

After a while, even the most innovative service offering begins to lose some
of its appeal, ultimately being perceived as a commodity-like offering, rather
than as representing a differentiated portfolio. What was initially offered to
the market as specialized service, often without much competition, soon becomes
just another service commodity among scores of increasingly competitive

Regardless of your organization's market share or position, it is important
to gauge exactly where your service portfolio stands at any given point in time
with respect to the perceptions - and expectations - of your targeted market
base. In most cases, it is the new, innovative upstart companies that are
typically conducting the bulk of the market research and competitive
intelligence prior to launching their new products and services,  not
necessarily the companies that are still selling their older  commodity-like

However, there may still be a great deal of life left in the more mature
business lines that comprise the majority of your company's product or services
portfolio. Even better, these lines tend to already be "tried and true" with
respect to market acceptance, and may only need a gentle marketing or
promotional "push" every once in awhile to stimulate additional market interest
and sales. Even NASA uses a "mid-course correction" every now and then to ensure
that the rocket gets to the proper destination!

There are many ways in which a business can determine exactly how much "kick"
its services offerings still have in them, or, conversely, whether it is time to
"kick" some of them out of the portfolio altogether and replace them with newer,
more innovative and competitive lines. The path recommended to evaluate the
overall health of your present portfolio of services, is to conduct a strategic
business assessment that focuses on:

A. An assessment of your customers' and the market's perceptions,
needs, requirements, preferences and expectations with respect to your existing
portfolio of service offerings.

B. The specific features and characteristics (e.g., attributes,
benefits, value, cost, etc.) that currently define your service lines, and what
it will likely take to "ramp them up" to the new and/or emerging market
requirements (i.e., the Three R's: Refine, Re-design and/or Re-package).

C. Customer/market perceptions and opinions regarding the current
quality and performance of the services used both from your organization and its
competitors. A set of recommended improvements to your existing portfolio in
order to better position it against the competition, and to maximize both sales
potential and ongoing customer satisfaction. The assessment and evaluation of
the findings from such a study would be extremely useful in terms of providing
your company management with the strategic marketing and promotional tools it
needs to:

  1. Identify the basic customer/market needs, requirements, preferences and
    perceptions that can be used to assess and "fine tune" the overall strategic
    market position of the organization's existing service lines.
  2. Ensure that the company is effectively marketing the right services, to
    the right market segments, by communicating the right marketing, branding, and
    promotional messages.
  3. Modify and enhance existing product/service lines to address the highest
    levels of customer & market demands.
  4. Develop new products and/or services to address the emerging needs and
    requirements of both the existing and prospective customer bases.
  5. Identify and cultivate the most attractive target markets based on
    identified patterns of customer decision-making and purchase behaviors, and
    product preferences and perceptions.
  6. Strengthen the company's overall product/service awareness and image,
    advertising and promotions, and sales activities through the execution of the
    recommended refinements, enhancements and/or modifications based on the study

While your present business lines are probably the key factors that helped
your company grow to its current size and market position, they may have become
"dusty" over the years and may be in need of a good "dusting off" or even,
retirement. Putting a "cash cow" off to pasture before it is time can cost your
company a great deal of money in terms of lost potential. However, keeping it on
once its gone dry may cost you even more in the long run in terms of giving your
company a perceived market image as being less than innovative or no longer
offering anything but commodity-like products and services.

Assessing where your product and services portfolio currently stand in terms
of market perceptions, and your ability to meet your customers' changing and
growing needs, will allow you to determine just how much “dust” has collected on
your existing  offerings–as well as  what you will need to “spring clean” to
compete more effectively.

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