- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Business Plus (March 1 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780446520942
- ISBN-13: 978-0446520942
- ASIN: 0446520942
- Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.3 x 20 cm
- Shipping Weight: 295 g
- Average Customer Review: 65 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #135,361 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing Hardcover – Mar 1 1997
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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.
Advertising professional Beckwith startles and disarms all potential doubting Thomases with one fact--that by the year 2005, 8 out of 10 Americans will be working in a service business. Chapters here are remarkably short; they are intended to convey one point (summarized in one sentence in boldface italics) and are blessedly free of jargon. Hints and tips cover the conventional four Ps of marketing--product, promotion, place, and price--in an irreverent and iconoclastic manner; nothing is sacrosanct. Stories from every corner of life illustrate and drive home messages. In a quandary about pricing? Read the Picasso story to remember, "Don't charge by the hour; charge by the years." About the value of research? Forget questionnaires and focus groups; instead, ask individuals what improvements are needed--not the dreaded "What don't you like?" A very human, much-needed book to savor and be refreshed by. Barbara Jacobs
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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.
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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