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Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing [Hardcover]

Harry Beckwith
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 1 1997
You can't touch, hear, or see your company's most important products... So how do you sell, develop, make them grow? That's the problem with services. This "phenomenal" book, as one reviewer called it, answers that question with insights on how markets work and how prospects think. A treasury of hundreds of quick, practical, and easy-to-read strategies-few are more than a page long-Selling the Invisible will open your eyes to new ideas in this crucial branch of marketing, including: * Why focus groups, value-price positioning, discount pricing, and being the best usually fail * The critical emotion that most influences your prospects-and how to deal with it * The vital role of vividness, focus, "anchors," and stereotypes * The importance of Halo, Cocktail Party, and Lake Wobegon Effects * Marketing lessons from black holes, grocery lists, the Hearsay Rule, and the fame of the Matterhorn * Dozens of proven yet consistently over-looked ideas for research, presentations, publicity, advertising, and client retention ...and much more. Based on the author's twenty-five years of experience with thousands of business professionals, this book delivers its wisdom with unforgettable and often surprising examples-from Federal Express, Citicorp, and a growing Greek travel an ingenious baby-sitter, Fran Lebowitz, and the colors of oranges and lemons. The first guide of its kind and a book already causing a sensation in the business community, Selling the Invisible will help anyone marketing a service, a product, or a career. Read it, and you almost certainly will understand why two advance reviewers call it the best book on business ever written.

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From Amazon

The transformation from a manufacturing-based economy to one that's all about service has been well documented. Today it's estimated that nearly 75 percent of Americans work in the service sector. Instead of producing tangibles--automobiles, clothes, and tools--more and more of us are in the business of providing intangibles--health care, entertainment, tourism, legal services, and so on. However, according to Harry Beckwith, most of these intangibles are still being marketed like products were 20 years ago.

In Selling the Invisible, Beckwith argues that what consumers are primarily interested in today are not features, but relationships. Even companies who think that they sell only tangible products should rethink their approach to product development and marketing and sales. For example, when a customer buys a Saturn automobile, what they're really buying is not the car, but the way that Saturn does business. Beckwith provides an excellent forum for thinking differently about the nature of services and how they can be effectively marketed. If you're at all involved in marketing or sales, then Selling the Invisible is definitely worth a look.

From Library Journal

"Don't sell the steak. Sell the sizzle." In today's service business, author Beckwith suggests this old marketing adage is likely to guarantee failure. In this timely addition to the management genre, Beckwith summarizes key points about selling services learned from experience with his own advertising and marketing firm and when he worked with Fortune 500 companies. The focus here is on the core of service marketing: improving the service, which no amount of clever marketing can make up for if not accomplished. Other key concepts emphasize listening to the customer, selling the long-term relationship, identifying what a business is really selling, recognizing clues about a business that may be conveyed to customers, focusing on the single most important message about the business, and other practical strategies relevant to any service business. Actor Jeffrey Jones's narration professionally conveys these excellent ideas appropriate for public libraries.?Dale Farris, Groves, Tex.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
In a free-association test, most people-including most people in business-will equate the word "marketing" with selling and advertising: pushing the goods. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Another ra-ra book March 1 2003
Ra-ra books are those kinds of books that are full of good(?) intentions and motivational speech ("you can do it", "yeah", "believe", "position", "improve your service"), but then offer no practical advice on how exactly to achieve these goals.
I am the owner of a small service business, so I read these kinds of books not for personal enjoyment, career advancement or writing reviews, but to find insight about how to improve my business.
This book conveyed no additional information and when reading it I had a strange deja-vu feeling that many fragments and anecdotes I had already read before. What is worse, the book is filled with anecdotal evidence - someone did that and succeded, someother didn't and failed, but anecdotal evidence is even worse than no evidence, since you don't know the context, the economy, the market and all the conditions that influenced the outcome. Nowadays you can find anecdotal "evidence" to support just about anything. Some of the world oldest men and women are smokers, but surely this does not mean that you should smoke as much as you can.
There are no statistics, no research (the author even tells in one of the so-called falacies to distrust everything that begins with "the resarch shows") no proof whatsoever of anything. Compare this to books like Cialdini's "Influence" or Caples' "Tested Advertising Methods".
The chapters are one or two page anecdotes ending each one with a supposeldy profound moral. For example, "when choosing a name, choose one that sounds well", "find out what clients are really buying","planning is an imprecise art". No advice is given, however, about what makes a name sound well, how to exactly find what clients are really buying, etc. Of course, the typical references to McDonalds, Federal Express and Disney are also there. "Be like them", the author preaches.
A great disappointment after all these stellar reviews here. 1 star is too much.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Become Visibile with a not so Visible Service Nov. 10 2003
There are several hundred books available on the market about selling. Most of these books are based on tangible products, something the consumer can see, feel and recieve an almost immediate satisfaction after the purchase.
This books is one of the few available about selling services. When a consumer purchases a service from you or your company, they are paying for your promise to deliver someting in the future. This is especially true in the world of finance and insurance industry. A financial advisor sells a fund and the buyer expects to recieve x amount of interest on his in vestment at a later date. In the insurance industry, a client buys an automobile insurance policy but will probably never see the benefits of the sinsurance policy until he or she has an accident. How do you sell something that has no immediate benefit to the client? Read "Selling the Invisible".
There are twelve very easy to read chapters with many short examples (lacking a little bit on the proof side). I do believe it is an excellent book but it is too North American oriented to be carried over one to one for european, asian or middle-eastern markets. There will have to be a few cosmetic adjsutments made to be able to adapt to other makets but it is still a catalyst to start doing things differently.
The chapters and some of the main messages of those I recieved from the author Harry Beckwith:
Planning - 1.) Accept the limititations of planning 2.) Don't value planning for its result;the plan 3.)Don't plan your future plan your people. 4.)Do it now. The business obituary pages are filled with planners who waited. 5.)Beware of focus groups; they focus on today and planning is about tomorrow. 6.)Don't let the perfect ruin good. 7.)Don't look to experts for all your answers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book For Marketing Services May 2 2003
"Selling The Invisible" by Harry Beckwith is a great book for those who market services. Beckwith tells us selling a service amounts to selling a promise. Beckwith says prospects want to minimize the risk of a bad experience and are often incapable of evaluating the quality of a service. For example, few people know if the tax advice they receive is the best advice possible.
So, improving your skills at your service often doesn't lead to enhanced profitability. Being better at what you do won't lead to more sales. (Beckwith says flatly that in money management, for example, investment skill ranks lower than the skill in acquiring and retaining assets to manage. Clients, too, actually rate money management skill lower than desire to build a relationship, which is surprising. That clients rate trust high isn't surprising.)
Some of the advice I especially liked in "Selling The Invisible":
* Improve your points of contact. Beckwith says we should evaluate every point at which our company interacts with a client-phone calls, business cards, meetings, etc. Beckwith says we should aim to make a phenomenal impression at every point of contact. And, this isn't difficult to do, given that most organizations have relatively few points of contact.
* The greatest value in a plan isn't the plan that results. It's the thinking that went into it.
* Focus groups aren't good, because the results are dependent upon group dynamics. Rather, seek independent, oral surveys from your customers.
* Ask: What are you good at? Beckwith says too many companies define themselves by their industry, which tends to pigeonhole their thinking. Beckwith suggests doing something, learning from it, and then adjusting appropriately.
* Service companies are selling a relationship.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Short, Concise...Very Insightful
Having spent much of my career in the I.T. services sector, I thoroughly enjoy researching other interests and broadening my understanding of topics that can enrich my life and... Read more
Published on April 14 2004 by Roger Koon
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Review: frequently just scratches the surface
The ideas that the author brings up are good, but too often I felt like I wanted more. The second section was irritating. Read more
Published on Jan. 5 2004 by "tv_funhouse"
5.0 out of 5 stars Do you keep using people who don't do little things right?
Selling the Invisible is must reading for anyone who wants to understand what it really means to run a service business. Read more
Published on Nov. 24 2003 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars These Techniques Work
Harry Beckwith's techniques in Selling the Invisible actually work. When you are dealing with service-related companies, it can be hard to understand what works and what does not. Read more
Published on Sept. 22 2003 by Michael Gordon
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! I've seldom been impressed enough to write a review.
This book far exceeds the many others that I have read, for a couple of reasons. It is a compilation of what other books state sure but it has some new ideas as well (or at least... Read more
Published on Sept. 17 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars He's Simply the King
Honesty, Professionalism, Trust, Hardwork. Saves you time from sophomoric, expensive attempts to convince your clients they need to do business with you. Read more
Published on Aug. 9 2003 by R. L Saunders
5.0 out of 5 stars The obvious is not always so obvious
I read this book while interning the summer before my senior year in undergraduate school. It uses stories and antecdotes to show you the obvious, it reinforces facts that you... Read more
Published on May 24 2003
1.0 out of 5 stars Typical ra-ra book
Ra-ra books are those kinds of books that are full of good(?) intentions and motivational speech ("you can do it", "yeah", "believe", "position", "improve your service"), but then... Read more
Published on Feb. 23 2003 by Alexander Hristov
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read if you are Marketing Professional Services
In a crowded space of space of sales and marketing books lacking substantive data, Harry Beckwith's Selling the Invisible proves to be a valuable read. Read more
Published on Feb. 6 2003 by P. Scott Pope
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally a Marketing Book that Applies to NonProfits!
Most marketing books are aimed at businesses that sell stuff, which makes them fairly inapplicable to the NonProfit world. Read more
Published on Nov. 7 2002 by Hildy Gottlieb
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