Selling the Invisible Book Summary, by Harry Beckwith

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1-Page Summary of Selling the Invisible

The Nature of Services and Why You Need to Know About Them

Services are hard to see, but they’re also critical in the economy. Most people make their living working for service companies. These businesses need to change the way they market themselves because their methods don’t work as well in today’s economy.

Products are not invisible. Selling a haircut or legal advice is not like selling a new car because you can’t see the product. When you sell products, you’re selling something that people can touch and feel before they buy it. That’s different from selling services where your clients can only evaluate the service after they’ve received it.

Clients don’t know if they need your service, or what it’ll cost. They may wait a long time to fix their faucets or paint those hard-to-reach places, and they’re not sure how much you charge for the work.

If you continue to sell your services by focusing on the features or benefits instead of the relationship between you and your customer, then you will underachieve.

If you don’t sell your product with a good service instinct, then you will not be able to distinguish it from similar products. We live in the age of over-saturation; there are just too many commodities out there. To market your product effectively, either lower the price or increase its value by improving your service.

The Nature of Prospects and Why You Need to Know About Them

In the service environment, where people buy intangible products and services, potential customers are nervous. This anxiety is your starting point for effective communication with them.

Clients only come to you for services because they cannot or will not perform the service themselves. In many cases, clients will walk into your office with no knowledge of what is required, but that’s why they came to you in the first place. So don’t try to fill their heads with all the job’s details. They won’t understand it anyway and would rather have a professional handle it instead of doing it themselves.

Instead of just selling your product or service, try to build a relationship with the client. This will help them feel more comfortable about buying from you and make it easier for them to trust you.

Clients are the most important part of your business. It’s easy to forget this when you’re trying to sell them something, but they’ll notice if you don’t give them what they want. They pay attention to things like how well-dressed and put-together you are – whether it’s your shoes or watch or anything else that shows their level of respect for them. Everything from your employees’ appearances to the way you present yourself in general will tell clients how much they mean to you and help build trust with them.

In the service industry, it’s critical to build a base of customers who will refer you to their friends and family. In order to do that, you need to develop a strong relationship with them. If they like your product or service, they’ll tell other people about it.

Things to Avoid in the Service Industry

If you make incorrect assumptions, it’s hard to market services in the right way. The truth is obscured by those assumptions and wrong ideas about how to market a service.

1. The Lake Wobegon Effect

Psychologists use the term “overconfidence” to describe people who think they’re better than they really are. Even if you do a great job, you might not be as good as you could or should be.

2. The Assumption that Everything is Fine

When you’re marketing your business, don’t take anything for granted. Ask yourself tough questions about whether the company is in the right industry and if it’s staffed properly. Is the service useful?

3. Competitive Strategy

Your competitors are not necessarily other companies. Often, they’re prospects who haven’t decided to use your service yet. Convince them using soothing words and tactics that will make the prospect feel at ease about your product or service.

4. The Pricing Obsession

Pricing is a complex process. Many people think that it’s logical, but in reality it’s not. If your price isn’t at least 15 to 20 percent lower than the competition, you’re too expensive. If everyone complains about your prices being too high, then they’re probably just right; if no one complains about them being too high, then they might be too low.

5. Your Mission Statement

Should your mission statement be too visible, abstract, or underachieving? If you tell people where you’re going or what you want to do, they might get there first. Keep your mission statement out of marketing materials. It should be specific enough for investors and employees to understand it but not so vague that it won’t help anyone.

6. Silence

If someone isn’t complaining, it doesn’t mean they are satisfied. In fact, in a service relationship, it may mean that your customer is dissatisfied. Most people don’t like conflict. They will suffer for a while in silence and then go away because of their dissatisfaction with the situation. It’s important to keep relationships in constant repair and make sure you’re providing good service at all times so no one feels ignored or mistreated.

7. Hype

If you fail to meet your customers’ expectations, they will be dissatisfied with the product.

8. Anchoring

Don’t remain anchored to your original perceptions. If you do, they’ll get stuck in a rut and grow stagnant. However, realize that customers are anchored to certain perceptions of their own. Do you want them to change? How can they be changed?

9. The Grocery List

When you have a lot of things to say, people tend to lose focus. To keep your audience engaged and remember what you’re saying, make sure the message is short and simple.

10. Being Great

Customers are not necessarily looking for the best service or a skilled person. They want to be able to trust someone they’re working with and develop a relationship with them. It’s important that you do good work, but it’s more important that you’re someone that customers can trust and build relationships with.

Planning

Planning is important in business, and the process of planning can be equally as important as the results. When you’re hiring people for a team, make sure they are bright and will contribute to your success. To plan better:

  1. Tactics are more important than strategy. Follow your tactics onto the battlefield and learn from your battles. Act. Ideas are only good when you’re passionate about them, so don’t spend all of your time looking for an amazing idea to pursue; pick up a small one and run with it now. The right time is always now, because if you don’t do it then someone else will take advantage of that opportunity first.

  2. Your experience is limited. You can’t possibly experience everything, so reach beyond your own experiences. Avoid basing decisions on generalizations; instead, inspire yourself to greater things by watching the power in your organization and questioning it when necessary.

Take Marketing Out of the Marketing Department

If you leave all the marketing of your company to one department, you’re not doing everything in your power to market your company. Everyone in your company can have an effect on how customers perceive and remember them every time they come into contact with a client. Stop thinking of marketing as a department and start thinking of it as part of everyone’s responsibility in the organization. Do people realize that everything they do plays a part in how customers perceive their experience? Have you taken a close look at all points where potential or existing customers interact with employees? At each point, are employees presenting themselves professionally? Remember that you are selling more than just products or services; consumers want relationships too.

  1. A brand is a shortcut. Customers go with what they know and are familiar with, so make sure your brand carries no negative connotations. People’s minds will subconsciously connect your company to other brands that sound similar or have a similar meaning, so make sure you choose something unique and memorable.

The Power of Language

Words have the power to shape reality. They create an image of your service in customers’ minds, and that image has a huge impact on how they experience it. Using active words will help you describe your service so that people imagine what you want them to see. Cliches can hurt you because they’re not memorable or unique; avoid using them. Make sure to advertise yourself in order for people to remember who you are and what services you offer.

It’s important to market yourself by telling stories about your service that are true, personal and stick with people.

Full Summary of Selling the Invisible

Overview

The U.S. economy is going through some major changes, and that’s creating a lot of uncertainty for people in the workforce. Jobs that were seen as secure just a few decades ago have all but disappeared, and new industries are springing up to replace them.

In today’s world, there is a huge shift in the type of business that dominates the global economy. There is a massive growth in service companies, which are businesses that sell services rather than tangible products.

More than half of the companies on the Fortune 500 are service companies. More than 75% of working Americans work in this sector, which is growing rapidly.

However, services are not just part of the service sector; they’re also growing in other sectors. For example, retail sales rely on customer service to make a profit. A department store like Dayton’s sells products but its revenues come from how much customers buy and how well the salespeople sell them.

McDonald’s is also successful because it offers great customer service with its popular fast food. In addition, the company has expanded its services to include more than just traditional products. For example, computer software often comes with added services such as technical support and upgrades.

Levi’s is another good example of a company that uses personalization to make its products more desirable. After customers visit Levi’s stores, they have their measurements taken so that when the finished product arrives at their homes, it fits perfectly. This level of service makes the product even better than competitors’.

Big Idea #1: It’s difficult to market services because they’re intangible and their quality varies.

Services are different from physical products. They can’t be seen or touched, nor can they be mass-produced. This makes them very difficult to market effectively.

In the past, products were sold simply because they had to be. But today, companies are realizing that customers don’t only want a product; they want an experience and a story behind it. They’re looking for something more than just what’s on the surface. For example, Porsche is known as one of the best car manufacturers in the world for building high-performance sports cars with sleek designs. It uses marketing campaigns that focus heavily on brand image rather than product features because its customers aren’t buying just any car—they’re buying into a lifestyle and an identity associated with their favorite car manufacturer.

Companies that sell services can’t display their products the same way as companies that sell physical goods. Therefore, they must rely on more abstract advertising techniques to get their message across.

Some companies also have difficulty marketing their services because they don’t always know what the quality of those services will be. Unlike physical products, which are manufactured in a standardized way and can be monitored for quality, service quality is not consistent because it depends on who works with you.

If a staff member is rude to a customer, then that customer will be wary of choosing any service from that company again.

Big Idea #2: Ensure your service exceeds customer expectations.

In today’s market, customers expect better service than in the past. Companies like McDonald’s have raised the bar by providing cleaner, faster and more consistent services than their competitors. To compete with them, you need to ensure that your service is up to par with theirs.

The best way to evaluate the quality of a service is by how much it exceeds customer expectations. For example, a restaurant will be judged positively if the food comes quickly and matches what was ordered. On the other hand, poor service or incorrect orders will result in negative feelings about the establishment.

Because customers won’t always tell you directly if they’re unhappy with your service, you need to actively seek out their opinions. To do this, you can interview them or ask them a survey of questions about your service. You should treat negative feedback as an opportunity to learn from the mistakes that led to customer dissatisfaction and ensure that customers will continue to value your service in the future by retraining sales staff if necessary.

Big Idea #3: Make your service stand out by being different, bold and innovative.

Physical products are easy for customers to differentiate because of their visual differences. Services, however, don’t have these elements and are harder to tell apart. In order to stand out in the service sector, you need to find different ways than your competitors do.

In business, the simplest way to be successful is to do things differently from your competitors. If you can’t beat them, then just being different will set you apart and give you an advantage over them. For example, Fed-Ex broke new ground with its delivery service by offering something completely different than what the US Postal Service did. Another way to gain significant benefits is by breaking new ground first before anyone else does it so that no one has any competition against you. A great example of this is Wal-Mart which opened up stores in small towns that other retailers had dismissed as having too few consumers but when these small communities were added together they made a massive untapped market for Wal-Mart’s products. Even if a company is well established in their industry, long term adaptation through innovation is also important because markets are always changing so companies must change with them or else they’ll lose out on customers and profits.

For example, in the past people used banks to help them manage their finances. These banks were too comfortable with their position and eventually became stagnant. This is when new businesses like credit unions and insurance companies sprouted, stealing customers from the banks through innovative strategies and services.

Big Idea #4: Don’t get stuck in the planning phase – instead, be proactive and be ready to take action.

Many businesses practice strategic planning. This means that they carefully define their future goals and the path to get there. However, despite its popularity, this type of planning has many limitations.

Planning is about determining goals. However, you can’t predict the future with accuracy. Therefore, you may plan for a future that doesn’t happen. For example, many people thought that television would destroy the book publishing industry but it didn’t turn out to be true.

Many companies spend so much time planning that they lose sight of what’s happening in the real world. These companies may spend years and millions on developing a product, only to be left behind because their competitors beat them to it or the market changes. To avoid this, you need a balance between planning and reacting to opportunities as they present themselves. You should plan for expected events but also be ready to react when unexpected things happen. Often times success comes from being at the right place at the right time rather than having an exact plan

To succeed, you need to plan and be proactive. For example, don’t be scared if your ideas fail initially; you can learn from mistakes. Apple’s first computer was called the Lisa, but it failed. They learned from their mistake and came up with a better computer called Macintosh.

Big Idea #5: Make sure that every area of your business, from employees to branding, forms part of your marketing strategy.

Companies spend lots of time and money on marketing strategies. They typically research, plan and implement a strategy to get people interested in their business.

However, this careful strategy is often compromised by problems in other areas. For example, a single rude employee can have a huge effect on sales regardless of the company’s advertising or pricing strategy.

Customers don’t distinguish between different areas of a company. They see everything the company does as marketing, so they don’t make a distinction between advertising campaigns and customer service representatives. Companies generally treat marketing as its own activity, but customers view it all together.

In order to make sure that the customer has a consistent experience with your company, you have to consider all aspects of it. These include business cards, office lobby, and uniforms for employees.

It’s also important that your employees reflect the company image in their appearance and behavior. The people who interact with customers should be trained to present a positive image of the company, especially when they are at work.

If a customer has positive experiences with employees, they will form a good impression of the company.

If you don’t treat your staff as extensions of your marketing message, it can have negative consequences. For example, if the finance department is poorly trained and gives a rude response to a customer, that customer’s anger will be directed against the company as a whole. Even if other departments are well-trained in delivering great service to customers, the perception created by that one interaction with an employee from another department may cause damage to the company’s reputation.

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Big Idea #6: Customer choices aren’t always rational – irrational factors like prestige and familiarity can also influence behavior.

People choose what products to buy based on their own whims, which can be irrational. For example, they might not pay attention to the price or quality of a product and instead base their choice on emotions like how it makes them feel.

One of the main factors that influence people is prestige. They choose it over practical factors like price. For example, credit cards by American Express are popular despite the fact that they have higher fees, less convenience and lower acceptance than other cards. This is because Am Ex markets itself as a club and so its members feel like they’re part of something exclusive.

Another reason people buy products is because they’re familiar with them. The more people see or hear about something, the more likely they are to buy it. Therefore, it’s important for companies to make themselves visible and spread the word about their brand. For example, the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) plants stories in newspapers nationwide each March before taxes are due in April; this helps reinforce that date in people’s minds.

To sell your product or service, you should consider factors other than price and quality. Things like prestige and familiarity can influence buying decisions as much as price and quality can, so if you don’t take this into account, your business might not be very successful.

Big Idea #7: Position yourself for success by narrowing down the focus of your service.

To be successful, you need to choose a specific niche and focus on it. Therefore, position yourself as someone who is perceived in a certain way by others; this is your external view. Focus on the internal aspect of your business—how you perceive yourself and understand what you do.

To build both of these, you must first narrow your focus. This allows you to concentrate your resources on one thing. Scandinavian Airlines provides a good example of doing this by concentrating their business-class service and attracting more business-class passengers. By filling up those seats with high-paying customers, they were able to lower the price for economy class tickets.

Next, focus on your position. Usually, this comes naturally from your focus, but you can’t control what people think about your company.

When you’re trying to figure out a good position, you can craft a positioning statement that helps customers understand your product or service. This statement tells them who you are and what benefits they’ll get from using your product or service. For example, Bloomingdale’s could say it’s targeting upper-middle class shoppers who want premium products and services. Once Bloomingdale’s communicates this clearly, they can make sure that their customers know exactly how to find them and why other stores aren’t as good as theirs.

Big Idea #8: Low-cost and middle-market pricing are risky strategies to take; high-end pricing is often the safest strategy.

Price is a great speaker about the value of his service. He knows how to communicate effectively and clearly about pricing. Few things are more important in marketing than price, so it’s critical to understand how you should price your services.

Given that logic dictates the opposite, it would make sense that people wouldn’t always go for the cheapest option. However, this is rarely true. While being a low cost provider can be an attractive pricing position, it’s risky because there will always be another cheaper product out there and you’ll have to keep lowering your prices to compete with them. For example, Sears was once a leading department store in America that competed on the low end of the market but later lost business when Wal-Mart expanded its cheap products into their stores. Because Wal-Mart could offer some items at lower prices than other companies and they were able to change their prices quickly as well, no one was able to compete with them so large competitors like Sears suffered greatly from their presence in the marketplace.

If you aim for the middle of the market, your product will be neither cheap nor expensive. This means that price-sensitive customers will choose cheaper options while quality-conscious customers will go with more expensive products. Therefore, it is better to target either end of the market rather than being in between.

If low and mid-range prices aren’t going to work, what will? The best approach is to aim for higher prices. That’s because people associate high prices with high quality of services/products. If you’re priced at the top end of the market, prospects are likely to believe that your product or service has value which justifies paying a premium price.

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Big Idea #9: To be successful, turn your company and the service you provide into a brand.

If you are hungry after a long day of driving, it’s probably best to choose a restaurant with an established brand name. This is because the quality of food and service that you can expect from these restaurants is predictable; they have built their reputation on providing consistent quality. Therefore, if you see one of these brands while looking for somewhere to eat in an unfamiliar town, consider going there as it will likely be reliable and safe.

If you want to be successful, develop your business into a brand. It’s important to make yourself easily recognizable by having a strong and memorable name and logo. You should also use visuals that reinforce your brand identity, which is why FedEx uses similar colors as the US Postal Service in its own visuals.

You don’t just want to build a good image, but your brand’s reputation as well. A good way to do this is by being trustworthy and high quality. For example, IBM spent years building up their credibility so that people believed in them for reliability and trustworthiness. They even developed the phrase “No one ever got fired for choosing IBM.” This is how they built up their reputation of being reliable and trustworthy.

If you establish your service as a recognizable and trusted brand, then you’ll be more likely to succeed.

Big Idea #10: Stories are powerful and convincing things – turn your message into a compelling story about your service.

Stories are more than just fiction. They can also be used to convey a brand’s message and create an image of that brand in the minds of customers. A good story will make a strong, emotional connection with listeners so they’ll remember it long after hearing it. Lawyers use stories to help them win cases by making their arguments more memorable for judges and juries. Marketers can do the same thing by using stories to build up a positive picture of their brands in consumers’ minds.

Yet, to tell a good story, marketers must ensure that the message is consistent. They should have a consistent decor and atmosphere in order to convey their food or product as high-quality. As most customers aren’t experts on quality, they rely on the consistency of the story when judging its value.

To be successful, you must have a story to tell. You can prove how good your service is with evidence such as customer feedback or positive publicity. If customers rate your service highly, then you should show that to others and explain why it’s a high score.

In order to create a great story for your product, you must focus on the needs of the customer. If they don’t need what you’re offering, then there’s no point in trying to sell it to them. You have to address their demands and concerns before they’ll want your product.

Big Idea #11: Final Summary

Marketing services is a challenging task in today’s economy. It’s important to focus on the service itself, as well as its positioning, so that things like branding and reputation can be leveraged. Because services are not tangible, clear and consistent messages about the company should be used to tell an interesting story about it.

Service marketing is important and relevant, as it plays an ever-expanding role in the economy. It’s a challenge to marketers because services are intangible and inconsistent. As such, you should collect feedback from customers to find out how they judge your service, identify areas for improvement, be different or bold with your service offering, take action instead of planning too much without any results and make sure that every area of your business – branding included – forms part of your marketing strategy.

To attract customers to your service, you need to know how people make decisions. People don’t always make rational choices; they also choose things based on their familiarity with them or their prestige. To be successful in the future, narrow down what you do and focus on one specific thing that’s unique about your business. Price points can have an effect on how well a company does; high-end pricing is often safer than low-cost pricing because it has more of a barrier for entry. You should turn your brand into something memorable so people will remember what it stands for. Stories are convincing and powerful ways to communicate – use stories when talking about your product or service.

Selling the Invisible Book Summary, by Harry Beckwith
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