Build A … might mean Build A Sale

Picture_8_2 One of the biggest trends we’ve seen over the past decade is the desire to customize everything.  Build your own jeans, build a bear, and now, build your own Muppet. (mine is rather dashing, eh?) And yes, you can order your Muppet after you build him/her.

The buyers of today are used to being able to modify a standard offering and make it their own.

While I think it’s easier to create this "Build A" feature into production of a tangible thing…I also believe that those of us in the services industry need to be mindful of this trend as well.

What could you allow your clients to customize?

  • Build a payment schedule?
  • Build a custom training/learning experience?
  • Build a marketing plan?

It seems to me that the trend is here to stay.  As the buyer gets younger, the demand for customization will be greater.  What could you offer today (or soon) to jump on this trend?

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16 comments on “Build A … might mean Build A Sale

  1. Karin H. says:

    Hi Drew

    As ‘brick&mortar’ company I just put the last hand on adding all our Design Parquet tiles on-line. Together with our manufacturer we can ‘create’ bespoke designs too, as happened last month (we baptised the design ‘Charing Basket-Weave ;-))

    As ‘service’ person (second career) I offer all small businesses an online training to Build (and self-manage) A simple and search-engine effective business website on a blog-platform.

    There – multi functional or what?

    Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

  2. Hey Drew –

    From an admitted sufferer of OCD, this concept makes me a little nervous – in theory…

    We’ve been doing it for years – custom work orders, custom marketing plans (duh), custom schedules…

    So, is there a limit to how customized our businesses become? And what does all of this customization do to our ability to effectively track result? And the $64Million question – can you systemize your customization? (just sounds painful)

    Great post.
    Keep Cooking!

  3. verna says:

    That’s funny — I just started a flyer ad campaign based on building your own fitness class–you bring your friends and pick the days and times and the type of class(yoga, bootcamp, etc.).

  4. Drew Jones says:

    How about “build your own price”? It started with auction-inspired services like Google Adwords and It was then taken to an extreme when Radiohead offered their album In Rainbows for download at whatever price its fans were willing to pay.

    I think we’ll begin to see it more and more of this with service businesses. Especially those who sell ideas (like an downloaded album) rather than their time.

    Service businesses that sell their ideas, or digital services that sell ones and zeros, aren’t shackled to the hard costs of goods. So they can afford to vary their price day to day, customer to customer based on value.

    This should be done because a service’s value changes based on who is being served. But it almost never happens. Why?

    My company, Sayso (, allows advertisers to set a price they’re willing to pay to deliver a messages to an individual’s mobile phone.

    Why isn’t this happening more and more?

  5. Ellen Weber says:

    Thanks for the great post Drew, because it reminds us that to build is often to solve. The landscapes may change daily out there – but people who shift and build new creations are still at the head of the race. We may still have far too much one-size-fits all to match the changing markets, as I see it.

    Yet people who custom build actually also grow new talents, and take their work in new ways. I’ve been discovering the same thing myself recently – and the building links to what we believe, where we’re headed, and what talents we plan to develop and use.

    What a world it could be! Think of the book you and Gavin “built” and how it changed the way we work. Each time we custom build we also enter the pool of great opportunities at work. And yes, on a good day – hopefully a sale too.

    Great inspiration to risk building forward here, and perfect timing, Drew.

  6. John Jackson says:

    In theory anyone offering marketing service should always deliver a unique marketing plan to their clients!
    It does strike me that often a business will know what they want for their marketing, but infrequently will they know what they need. This is understandable afterall why buy-in marketing services if you already have the skills.
    So I would always suggest that after listening to a client explain what they want, and proposals given in response should always outline what they need as well.
    This will help to enusre that a much more “Build A..” type service is delivered and as it will be more appropriate for the business, it should prove to be more sucessful.

  7. Don’t forget the build your own M&M’s – As a creative, the customization of business and all it’s features is an intriguing one. My first business involved custom work – and there was a lot of it once you opened the door. It speaks the fact that people do in fact what what they want, how they want it. And as a creative, I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t offer creative terms, arrangements, etc. In fact I love it when client partners suggest creative terms. Plus it wouldn’t be any fun! ginger p.s. when do we get to see you operate your new muppet?!

  8. Karin,

    I always knew you were multi-faceted. I’ll bet the custom tile really takes off. People love the idea of having something unique in their home. And if it is something unique they created — all the better.


  9. Ely says:

    Bravo Drew,

    You said it best: Build A Sale feature. Google stumbled upon this build-a-sale feature: Adwords. Entire businesses solely rely on this feature. If you can show your customers how to generate more sales, you can be sure they will keep coming back and bring their friends with them.

  10. Andrew,

    You trepidation is well founded, I think. There’s a fine line to be walked here. But, just like social media has taught us that our clients/customers are demanding the microphone — I think they’re also demanding some customization.

    The trick is for us to figure out how to do it well and profitably.


  11. Verna,

    That sound great. How’s the response?


  12. Drew,

    I’ve written about this a few times. I think it’s a fascinating topic. I do believe it is easier to someone who sells a tangible item (CD, download, ad) to make this work, as opposed to a service business. But I believe it’s something we all could and maybe should experiment with.

    How do you think your clients do, in terms of setting a fair price?


  13. Ellen,

    That’s so true. I hadn’t thought about that aspect of it. That makes the idea of customizing elements of our business even more appealing.

    Everyone is screaming for innovation these days. Here’s a way to discover it!


  14. John,

    Of course a marketing plan should be custom. I wasn’t talking the document, I was talking more about how you work with your client to decide which possibilities make the most sense.

    When we present a marketing plan, we present it “menu” style. We show the client what they must eat — their main course. But then, there are options in the appetizers and dessert sections. So they get to be a part of the custom build.

    Does that make more sense?


  15. Ginger,

    And every generation gets more and more “trained” to expect customization. So it’s only going to be more common.

    As for my muppet. It was free to create him. Not free to actually get him!


  16. Ely,

    You bring up a good point. The Buzz factor of custom offerings. People are much more likely to talk about something they had a hand in creating or is unique to them.


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