A lot of our consultancy engagements involve helping companies structure a product portfolio that makes sense. Usually that means organising a long list of products or services into a few sensible buckets. It can be kind of tricky and isn’t always intuitive but putting in the time to get it right is well worth it.
A well-considered portfolio makes your company look cohesive and focused. A messy portfolio structure makes it look like you just kind of accreted new products and services on a drunken bar-crawl (“For all your fish and bicycle needs.”).
The goal is simple: make it quick and easy for prospects to find solutions to their problems as they describe them. Of course, you don’t want to leave any product or service out and you don’t want too many buckets (people won’t wade in, they’ll just waddle off). A few tips:
- Use the buyer’s perspective not yours – you may like to organise your life and your products by department or line of business; they don’t care about that. They come to you with problems in their head. Organise around that.
- But don’t forget the spiders – your product page and its copy, URLs, tags, headings and subheads should generate major search mojo. Make sure you integrate this important web section into your overall SEO strategy.
- Don’t hide your hot products – the more specific a product, the more relevant it’s likely to be. Don’t bury your discrete offers far below the top line categories. If one of your popular products logically lives beneath the surface, bend your logic and get it on top for all to see.
- If you do have to bury a hot product, compensate – by promoting it in feature boxes, sidebars and web banners
- Make your labels descriptive – cryptic, cool or evocative labels may sound good but if it isn’t instantly clear what’s inside, you’re losing eyeballs (and the eyeball-bone’s connected to the wallet-bone).
- Keep lists parallel – it’s kind of annoying to have a portfolio consisting of three nouns and a verb, or three vices and a versa. Makes you look tone deaf.
- Don’t be a slave to alliteration – don’t bend over backwards to present ‘The 6 Rs’ if it doesn’t work. Having said that, Velocity is starting to present our services in four buckets that all really do start with C (as does ‘coincidence’): Consulting, Content, Campaigns & Creative.
Unwieldy portfolios are usually a function of a company’s history. Re-organisations, acquisitions, aborted strategies and weed-choked routes to market all leave their mark. If yours is starting to feel clunky, start over with a fresh sheet of paper — or get some advice from people who don’t know (or care) why things evolved the way they did.
photo credit: flickr creative commons: curiousmess
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