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on April 14, 2004
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 career. In the area of marketing services, this publication provided ample, tangible information on modern marketing and exceeded my expectations in a number of ways.
First, the covers of this book are not too far apart, which is a rare find these days. Often, writers try to impart an excessive amount of irrelevant information in their writings, as though their real ambition is to write the next, great American novel. This book is different.
This publication is short, concise and filled with valuable information. If you are in the business of marketing, you need this book. For anyone in the service industry, consider giving yourself an edge over your competition by reading this insightful book, and putting into action the relevant suggestions of the author.
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on January 5, 2004
The ideas that the author brings up are good, but too often I felt like I wanted more. The second section was irritating. I got the feeling that the author has extensive experience in advising others, but little experience in personally carrying out - nice stories and good talk, but few real world details. On the other hand, I have been able to apply some of the ideas to my business. Stick it out past the second section and it gets a lot better.
Bottom line: Not the only book you'll need to learn about marketing your service, but a worthwhile investment.
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Selling the Invisible is must reading for anyone who wants to understand what it really means to run a service business. Your clients will know good service when they "see" it, but they most likely won't be able to tell you what it is. Beckwith can and does. Good service is all about doing the little things to help your customers "like" you. It's about creating relationships with new friends. Read this book, and you'll find out that it's not the most technically competent business that wins, it's the most likeable one that will. We're all very lucky because it's not really hard to do the little things that'll please our customers. Or is it?
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on November 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. Ther are no answers, only informed opinions.
How Prospects Think - 1.) Appeal only to a prospects reason, and you may have no appeal at all 2.) Familiarity breeds business; spread your word however you can. 3.)Take advantage of the recovery effect. Follow-up brilliantly.
Pointing and Focus - 1.)Stand for one distinctive thing that will give you a competative edge. 2.)To broaden your appeal, narrow your position. 3.)No company can position itself as anything, your prospects and customers put you there. Positioning is something the market does to you. You can only try and influence your position. 4.) Your position is all in the peoples minds. Find out what that position is. 5.)Focus. In everything from campaign for peanuts to campaign for presidents, focus wins.
Pricing - 1.)Don't assume that logical pricing is smart pricing. Maybe your price which makes you look like a good value, actually makes you look second rate. 2.)Setting your price is like setting a screw. A little resistance is a good sign. The reason 10% of the population are chronic complainers of price. 3.)Beware of the deadly middle in pricing. You communicate that as well... We are average. 4.)Beware of the rock bottom in pricing...you communicate we are substandard. 5.)Value is not a position.
Naming and Branding - 1.)Give your service a name, not an abbreviation 2.)Generic names encourage generic business. 3.)In service marketing almost nothing beats a brand. 4.)Building a brand doesn't take millions. It takes imagination.
Communicating and Selling - 1.)Make the service and the prospect feel compfortable 2.)Saying many things usually communicats nothing. 3.)Good basic communicating is good basic marketing. 4.)If you think your promotional idea might seem silly or unprofessional, it is. 5.)Prospects do not buy how good you are at what you do. They buy how good you are at who you are. 6.)Far better to say to little than too much. 7.)People hear what they see. Watch what you show. 8.)Give your marketing a human face.
Nurturing and Keeping Clients - 1.) Watch your relationship balance sheet, assume it is worse than it appears and fix it. 2.)Don't raise expectations you cannot meet. 3.)To manage satisfaction, you manage your customers expectations. 4.)Out of sight is out of mind. If you are not meeting regularly, you are not in their mind.
Overall an excellent book that contains a lot of reasons as to why service marketing is different and how to keep yourself visible amongst the competition.
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on September 22, 2003
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. After all, services are not like products, Beckwith says, in that they are hard to define, often times you don't even think about the service unless you are confronted with the person providing the service (i.e., your dentist). Thus, you must make consistant reminders of who you are, and why your service is exceptional. Beckwith also writes in a way that is likely to allow you to remember what he says. He has his commentary in bold print, writes in very easy to read prose, and has a final line summarizing what he says in a few words. This is an excellent book and it should be on the book shelves of any would-be marketer or service-related business operator. It works in my business, and I work as a telephone psychic!
-- Michael Gordon
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on September 17, 2003
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 new ways of looking and thinking about things) The unique quality this book has is it's success at bringing these concepts together and across in a simple, intelligent, applicable to the REAL WORLD format. The author also comes across as very honest, caring and experienced. A very easy book to read, both because of the material and the mini chapters which allowed me to fit it in throughout my day (which I was doing constantly) In fact I'm going to read it again and take notes this time, that is when my business partner finishes with it.
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on August 9, 2003
Honesty, Professionalism, Trust, Hardwork. Saves you time from sophomoric, expensive attempts to convince your clients they need to do business with you.
His style is honest, "look-you-in-the-eye" reasonableness. Can't remember when I sat down with a book and felt like I knew nothing about business marketing. A GREAT MENTOR and worthy of emulation, if not imitation.
You should be grateful he wrote this book.
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on May 24, 2003
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 simply take for granted. I would highly recommend this book to anyone considering or in a job in marketing or consulting. It is an extremely fast read, but worth the time.
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on 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. The prospect must feel valued and comfortable.
* Sell hope and happiness. People like hope and happiness. But, for professional services, never be gimmicky or use trickery, because service businesses must always build trust. And, trickery implies you trick clients. However, service companies must be careful not to overpromise. Client expectations must be managed. If a client expects a miracle and only gets very good service, he won't be happy.
* Don't aim for greatness or being best. Aim to be positively good. In marketing, most clients aren't looking for the very best, which probably will be too expensive. They're looking for worry-free and good service. Beckwith suggests avoiding braggery and puffery and consider using understatement.
* Risk yourself. Don't fear rejection or failure.
* When in doubt about what to do, Beckwith suggests, "Get out there. Almost anywhere. Let opportunity hit you." Beckwith tells us many strategists procrastinate, because they don't want to see their plans fail. But, that will get you nowhere. You need to execute tactics to learn and improve.
* Don't overgeneralize. Beckwith writes, "have a healthy distrust of what experience has taught you."
Beckwith makes a convincing case that we can't rely upon memory, experience, authority, and even common sense to know what will work in marketing. For example, about authority, Beckwith writes, "Ideas do not follow the good thinking in an organization; ideas follow the power." And, he points out that power often goes to those who look and sound like they should have power. In fact, he tells us the strongest predictor of an MBA's starting salary is height, not academic or business performance.
Beckwith tells us that in today's world people are looking for shortcuts and the best short cut of all is a brand, because a brand implies a name that is trusted to deliver. Branded products and services tend to be most profitable. Beckwith writes: "In service marketing, almost nothing beats a brand." (Another good book about branding is "Fusion Branding" by Nick Wreden.)
"Selling The Invisible" also has great advice about naming a company, publicity, and communication. The book's one weakness is its discussion of positioning, which I found a bit boring and skipped. In another section, Beckwith needlessly repeats himself about the need to thank people. Overall, I enjoyed and recommend "Selling The Invisible."
Peter Hupalo, Author of "Thinking Like An Entrepreneur"
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 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 amazon.com 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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