On Selling The Invisible

I just finished reading the book Selling The Invisible by Harry Beckwith. As Harvey Mackay notes on the cover “The one book on marketing I’d have if I could have just one. A CLASSIC.” This books changes the way we think about marketing: “It begins with an understanding of the distinctive characteristics of services – their invisibility and intangibility – and of the unique nature of service prospects and users – their fear, their limited time, their sometimes illogical ways of making decisions, and their most important drives and needs”. Harry then goes on to discuss a number of fundamental topics: surveying and research, planning, positioning and focus, pricing, branding, communicating and selling, nurturing and keeping clients etc.

Below are some excerpts that I found particularly insightful:

a) “Your opportunities for growth often lie outside the confines of your current industry description.” – This can be reworded to apply to one’s personal career

b) “In most professional services, you are not selling expertise – because your expertise is assumed, and because your prospect cannot intelligently evaluate your expertise anyway. Instead, you are selling a relationship. And in most cases, that is where you need the most work.”

c) “First, accept the limitations of planning…Second, don’t value planning for its result: the plan…Third, don’t plan your future. Plan your people.”

d) “Positioning (Al Ries and Jack Trout) says: 1) You must position yourself in your prospect’s mind. 2) Your position should be singular: one simple message. 3) Your position must set you apart from your competitors. 4) You must sacrifice. You cannot be all things to all people; you must focus on one thing.”

e) “To succeed spectacularly in a service business, you must get all your ducks in a row. Marketing is just one duck. But it is one very big duck.”

f) “…And for marketing purposes – for the purpose of attracting and keeping business – a service is only what prospects and clients perceive it to be. So “get better reality”: Improve your service quality. But never forget that the prospect and client must perceive that quality.”

g) “Services are human. Their successes depend on the relationships of people…But you can spot some patterns in people. The more you can see the patterns and understand people, the more you will succeed – and this book as written with the hope that it will help you do just that.”

h) “Nothing beats experience, of course, but reading books about others’ experiences comes in a competent second. The risk in learning only from personal experience is that too often, we draw conclusions from too little data – we learn too much from too little. We also tend to credit our company’s successes to everything that went into them…And so we keep repeating things that hurt our business.”

One of the best features of the book is the way its written and structured. Each area is covered through small stories featuring numerous real-life examples. This makes the book very practical and enjoyable to read. All in all, a great book on Marketing and one that is recommended for anyone. We are all in some aspect a marketer of services.

As a final remark, you can follow the author Harry Beckwith’s latest thoughts here: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/unthinking .


Omar Halabieh

Selling The Invisible

Selling The Invisible


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