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Perhaps Invisible But Nonethless Real
on February 18, 2003
This "field guide" provides innovative and yet practical and prudent advice on what, in Beckwith's opinion, must be done to attract, reward, and sustain the loyalty of those to whom one sells...whatever that product, service, or idea may be. Consumers now experience an information, indeed a sensory overload of marketing messages which makes differentiation even more difficult now than ever before. Beckwith explains how to penetrate such clutter.
After identifying and then analyzing in detail four "Key Trends," he challenges dozens of widely held beliefs about effective marketing which, in his judgment, have been invalidated by those trends. For example:
* "Word-of-mouth advertising has become the world's most overrated form of marketing." Why? "Our mobility propels us away from [old networks through which to process word-of-mouth communications] and into new cities where everyone seems to come from somewhere else."
* "Cold calls leave people cold." Why? "People feel most comfortable with people they know -- and mistrust ones they've never heard of. You must get known [to them prior to initial contact]."
* "It is not what you say; it is what people hear. It is not what you communicate; it's what gets communicated." Why? "You tell your story with words, perhaps, but words are only symbols....Written words, in other words, are just symbols of symbols."
* "Clients do not buy solutions." Why? Numerous research studies indicate that "responsiveness to phone calls" and "sincere interest in developing a relationship" ranked higher in importance than "technical skill" -- the ability to devise solutions. According to Beckwith, "It isn't the better solution that clients value. It's the simple act of listening itself. We value it because of how we feel. It makes us feel important."
He suggests an abundance of strategies and tactics by which to achieve any organization's desired objectives, given the aforementioned trends which continue to create an especially volatile, increasingly ferocious competitive marketplace. For example, how to cope with "Option and Information Overload" (pages 45-96) and how to accommodate "The [Clients'] Wish to Connect" (pages 195-242). Moreover, in the final section of his book, Beckwith answers the question "Why do some people and businesses thrive?" He includes an especially relevant quotation from David Landes' The Wealth and Poverty of Nations:
"In this world, the optimists have it., not because they are always right, but because they are positive. Even when they are wrong they are positive, and that is the way of achievement, correction, improvement, and success. Educated, eye-open optimism pays."
Beckwith urges his reader to build "something that fills you with passion, and then spread its flames into every corner of your business....Triumph, then, belongs to those who believe...[to those who take] the path which runs along the cliff -- that one, the one without any guardrails." By doing so, he assures his reader, she or he will know "the exhilaration of the ride and the pride you feel when you reach the end will inspire you to take that path again and again." Clients love comfort, Beckwith insists, especially in an age when there are so many choices and messages. They crave comfort more than anything else. They will love those who provide it with expertise, clarity, integrity, and sincere interest...but also with passion because it shows "you love what you do."
Those who share my high opinion of this book are urged to check out several of the sources listed in Beckwith's annotated "Reading List for Growing a Business" (pages 267-274). To that list I presume to add Stephen Denning's The Springboard, David Maister's Practice What You Preach, and Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich.