Ideas to Expand Your Portfolio of Products & Services

In the spirit of "Innovating with Meaning" in the New Year, especially during a time when the call for innovation can be heard loud and clear, we offer the following ideas to help you expand your current portfolio of products and services:

  • Seek to alter the "forgetting curve" by reminding your current customers through advertising of products & services and/or of specific benefits or aspects of said products & services of which customers may be unaware;
  • Sell more to your current customers by offering promotions or volume discounts for a limited time, such as a “buy 2, get 1 free” offer;
  • Sell more often to your current customers by promoting frequent purchases via a loyalty card campaign;
  • Find other uses for your product or service (for example, Arm and Hammer encouraged consumers to place an open box of baking soda in their refrigerator to mask food odors; Absorbine, once only a remedy for animals, is now available in a less potent formula, Absorbine Junior, for relieving sore muscles in humans);
  • Find a new distribution channel, such as eBay or Amazon.com for your products & services;
  • Create a new occasion (for example, Hallmark Cards is famous for promoting new holidays in order to encourage higher sales; cereal manufacturers encourage consumers to eat cereal as a snack in addition to the breakfast occasion);
  • Decrease the price with special events, such as Back-to-School sales;
  • Offer various price points (as hotels do with standard and deluxe suites);
  • Add a service to the product, such as free ski wax with the purchase of new skis;
  • Bundle with other products or services, such as offering airfare, hotel, and car rental packages;
  • Develop line extensions. Disney is a master at expanding the use of its movie properties;
  • Introduce new levels of service, such as the way that American Express does with its card programs or as dry cleaning stores do with rush or regular service;
  • Expand by offering new services.  Restaurants are expanding into the rental market where they are offering to rent their premises for cooking lessons, cooking parties, and even executive team training courses where team members can learn to break down their communications barriers by learning to cook together;
  • Develop new products within the same category;
  • Develop new products in a new category.  For products and services operating in so-called “mature categories,” it is wise to expand the definition of the category by combining one category with another, or by creating an entirely new category;
  • Find new customers via a new distribution channel, such as Avon and Tupperware successfully did.  Vending machines, for instance, represent a viable distribution channel to target new customers for many products;
  • Find new customers in new geographic zones.  Expand your distribution globally;
  • Redefine the target market.  Attract new customer groups, such as teens or families. For example, Tilley, the Canadian hat manufacturer, supplied hats for soldiers who were serving in the US Army;
  • Reposition the product or service from a niche to a mainstream category in order to attract a larger customer base;
  • Cross-sell your products to new customers who are already your customers! Financial institutions, for example, are finally learning to sell their loan services to those customers who are holding savings accounts at the same branch;
  • Remove barriers to your current products or services. Find out what the barriers to using your product or service have been among potential new or returning customers. Decide if these barriers warrant corrective action in order to attract these new customers;
  • Sell your knowledge to others outside of your industry sector. For example, Second City, well known for SCTV and comedy shows, has expanded its portfolio by offering knowledge through improvisation training courses targeted to business people who want to improve their presentation and communication skills;
  • Identify totally new business concepts. Nokia began operations in 1865 as a wood pulp mill and, over time, changed its business focus to chemicals, rubber, and, most recently, to telecommunications;
  • Create new categories and industries. Go where no one has gone before!

We hope that you will find something on this list of ideas that proves to be useful (and, of course, "meaningful") to you and your organization as you navigate through these difficult economic times.  For more ideas and examples, please see our bestselling book, The Seeds of Innovation. Happy New Year!

Blog Co-Authors:

Dr. Alex Pattakos is the author of Prisoners of Our Thoughts (www.prisonersofourthoughts.com) and Elaine Dundon is author of The Seeds of Innovation (www.seedsofinnovation.com).  They are co-authors of Innovating with Meaning (forthcoming).

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1 Comments

  • Ilya Bodner

    This is a very inspiring article. However, the companies mentioned are all in great funding state. Every single company mentioned in this article received a lot of financing to get off the ground. The situation is much different for small business owners. In order to get there all small business owners should realize that building business stability and business credit is the key to success.

    Begin your search online by typing "strong business credit" (just like in quotes) into google or yahoo. You will find many companies that help small businesses build business credit and obtain financing.

    Sincerely,

    Ilya Bodner
    Small Business Owner
    Initial Underwriting Group