Killing Products Is Good

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RIP - Rest in Peace - written on the road

Hosting providers like us offer a lot of different products and services. Some are popular, some aren’t. Some fill an obvious gap, while others target the “long tail”.

The “long tail” is fascinating, but I digress.

At the moment we are conducting an in-depth review of how we do things. Why? Because it’s long overdue. Any business that wants to survive, thrive and prosper needs to take time to assess what it’s doing and how it is doing it.

One area that we are looking at is how we sell products and services to our clients.

Over the past few months we’ve launched several new services that fill gaps. We didn’t have a good sitebuilder solution for our clients, for example. We now do.

The bulk of our clients are small to medium businesses (SMEs). If you spend any time with small businesses you realise that a lot of them share common concerns and have similar challenges and requirements. So we’ve been honing our service offerings to better fit the needs of those businesses in 2015. That’s not to say that we didn’t provide services that they wanted or needed up until now, we definitely did. But there were, as I said, gaps. Online marketing was an obvious one. So we’re now offering a nice and easy to use suite of services that are designed for time-starved small businesses. Sure, if you’re a bigger company you might be able to afford the services of either “in house” staff to do your online marketing or maybe you can outsource to a 3rd party agency. But those all come at a cost, which, when you’re starting out most small businesses simply cannot afford.

But what about the services we were already offering?

Some of them we’ve been offering for years without really reviewing their overall performance.

“Performance” is an interesting metric.

It’s not simply a case of “cost” vs “selling price”. You have to also factor in things like “support costs”. If you only sell 1 widget a month and there’s no support or customer service overhead associated with that sale then you’re servicing that “longtail” I mentioned. But if every sale leads to customer service calls, tickets etc., and you aren’t selling a large enough volume of the “widget” then maybe it’s time to reconsider selling it in the first place.

So that’s what we’ve been doing.

Some of this has been going on in a more haphazard way for years. As technology evolved vendors stopped supporting older technologies. And if a technology is no longer supported by the “source”. Remember Microsoft’s Frontpage? Back in the day hosting providers, including ourselves, used to offer support for Frontpage Extensions. It’s now obsolete technology and we don’t support it anymore.

The same thing happened with ColdFusion, though in that case it’s still “alive”, but it’s not used enough to be worth offering. Web developers have moved on to different technologies. We used to offer it, but at a certain point we just couldn’t continue supporting it for the tiny number of people actively using it.

We’re doing the same now with some services. Either the technology has evolved or there are better alternatives out there.

It makes more sense for the business to focus on the products and services that people are going to use so killing a product isn’t a negative thing. In many ways it’s one of the most positive moves we can make.

 

 

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