We all would love to increase our sales! More customers, more revenue, more sustainability. In this post, I would like to explore one of the concepts in economics that can help you do just that…. complimentary products or services.

“Untapped value is often hidden in complementary products and services”
– Kim & Mauborgne

Bookshops and coffee shops. Popcorn and movies. Printers and cartridges. Most products and services do not exist in a vacuum. In economics, when there is an increase in demand for one product it normally translates into demand for the other.

True Story

As a supplier in the electrical industry, one of the services we offer, is to repair faults in underground electrical cables. These faults that interrupts power supply normally happens due wear-and -tear in the cables, or mechanical damage caused by excavation. Simply put, this service enables us to locate the fault beneath the surface, without excavating mounds of earth. It is also more cost effective and efficient than digging or lifting of paving.

Initially, we were the team who repaired the damaged cable, let’s call this Service 2.

What happened before we could do the repairs?
Another service provider (Cable Fault Specialists) would arrive on site to trace and locate the underground fault using specialized equipment. They were Service 1.

What happened after we repaired the cable?
Service Provider 1 would come back to do a diagnostic check to determine if the cable was ready for power transmission.

Before I get too technical here, let me explain where this fits into strategy.

So, what could be a bottleneck for the client?

  • liaising with and paying two or three service providers instead of one
  • paying higher service costs due to multiple service charges
  • experiencing a delay in the restoration of power due to poor communication between the service providers, resulting in a longer downtime for the client
  • other issues faced by contractors, such as: equipment breakdown, staff absenteeism, technical delays on site, etc., you get the picture.

The Strategy

We are in the business of electrical maintenance, including that of underground cables. Thus, a complimentary service to this would be cable tracing and cable fault location, i.e., the service that comes before and after cable repairs. We purchased the cable fault tracing and fault locating equipment, invested in the training, did market research on pricing sweet spots and launched our complimentary service.

Benefits of Complimentary Service

For the client – more value in that they liaise with one service provider offering the full array of services required to restore their power supply at a lower cost and greater efficiency.

For the service provider (that’s us)- attracting new clients who use the cable tracing and fault location services and providing additional services offerings to the new (cable fault) clients, thus broadening our client base.

Over to you…

Think about your specific industry.

  • What is the product or service that you offer?
  • What other product or service is usually associated with yours?
  • What happens before, during and after your product/service?
  • Can you identify the areas that may cause bottlenecks for your company or your client?
  • How can you eliminate these bottlenecks through a complimentary product or service offering?


Bottlenecks – can hold up production by an inefficiency in the production process or service delivery, thus increasing production costs (basically eating into your profit margin) and ultimately, impacting your client satisfaction.

This post was inspired by a great book on thriving in an uncontested market space, called Blue Ocean Strategy, by W. Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne.