The (Minimal) Prep Work Required to Describe a Product or Service (With Bad Art!)

Before we attempt to describe whatever product or service we are offering / being offered, it may be helpful to place it on this graph.

My inner Luddite suggests you follow these instructions to draw it for yourself: From left to right on the x-axis, we have “products” on one end and “services” on the other. From top to bottom on the y-axis, we peak at “high-priced” and drop to “low-priced.”****

Let’s make an example within the same industry so we can start to think about how things can relatively co-exist, and why thinking this way matters greatly.

In the top left (high-priced product) is a fancy steak dinner. In the bottom left (low-priced product) you have a fast-food hamburger. In the top right (high-priced service) you have the fancy steak dinner serving five-star restaurant. In the bottom right (low-priced service) you have the fast-food drive through window.

We can place anything (really, anything) onto this graph and start to understand how/why people choose it, how it is framed, and what its key attributes are. It should stand out right away that in most cases there is a bridge between the product and service, usually laterally (high-prices good + service, not high-priced goods + low-priced service), although diagonal examples do exist as well.

Take some time to think about this relationship, and ask these questions about either your own job / company or those that you interact with: how do they describe themselves (ex. advertise), how would you describe them (what value do you see/receive?), and (the most important meta question) does their self-description and your independent description lineup – yes/no/why?

****high and low prices are also used here as proxy for these continuums: luxury / common, finite supply (scare) / infinite supply (abundant), and probably others – let me know what you can think of.