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Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing Hardcover – March 1, 1997

4.4 out of 5 stars 235 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Business Plus (March 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446520942
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446520942
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (235 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #111,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Harry Beckwith is a frequent guest lecturer for many national corporations, including ABC, Inc., BellSouth Corporation, Norwest Corporation, and Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc., among others. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I bought this book because I thought it might be relevant to "gold collar workers", those who manufacture and sell knowledge that is quite "invisible" or intangible. What a great book this is! Every person that relys on their brain for a living, whether as an employee or consultant or teacher, can double their *perceived* value by reading and applying the lessons of this book.
A few of the author's well-discussed and well-illustrated ideas are offered here to complement the many other favorable reviews:
1) Simplify access to your work! [Learn how to create executive summaries, tables of contents, hyper-links, etc.--don't assume that everyone knows your value and is willing to spend time digging into your work.]
2) Quality, speed, and price are *not* in competition, they must be offered simulaneously and at full value.
3) What is your promise or value proposition? Are you just showing up, or does every day offer a chance for you to show your value in a specific way?
4) Don't just be the best in your given vocation, *change it* for the better and redefine what "best" means!
5) Sell your relationship (and your understanding of the other person's needs), not just your expertise in isolation. Your boss or client has three choices and you are the last: to do nothing, to do it themselves, or to use you. Focus on being the first choice every time.
6) Execute with passion--and if you are a super-geek or nerd that does not have a high social IQ, form a partnership with a super-popular person and put them in front.
There are many other useful thoughts in this book. If you want to know how to sell the invisible, the intagible, the value propositions that revolve around knowledge and insight instead of bending metal and assembling things, this is absolutely the best book one could ask for. Really nicely presented.
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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
As others have written, this book is not about creating a complex marketing design or plan. What it does offer is quick, a page or so, USA today-like snippets of insightful observations about marketing in general, and service marketing in particular.
As the title indicates, selling and/or marketing an intangible service is a different process than tangible product marketing. As the author writes, most people cannot evaluate the skills of an accountant, or lawyer, or any number of professional services. We often look for tangible proxies that indicate the professional's level of expertise and success (e.g., fancy offices, degrees on the wall, presentation, etc.).
If you read this book in its entirety in one session, you are bound to remember nothing in the sea of facts and tidbits (click on the table of contents link to get a feel for the topic areas). I've found the best way to read the book is to ponder on a few points every night and/or week, while attempting to apply them to a salient situation in your life. Overall, this book has some interesting and useful insights, and is a good read when you have a few minutes to spare.
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Format: Hardcover
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 (training) business, so I read these kinds of books not for personal enjoyment, career advancement or writing amazon 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; anecdotal evidence, however, 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. For example, some of the world oldest men and women are habitual smokers, but surely this does not mean that you should smoke as much as you can to live a hundred years.
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.
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