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Book Summary: “Selling the Invisible” by Harry Beckwith

You can’t see them – so how do you sell them? That’s the problem with services. In this classic field guide to modern marketing, Beckwith covers a lot of territory. Christened "a classic" by Swim With the Sharks author Harvey Mackay, this book is a treasury of 160 quick, practical and easy-to-read strategies. So much ground is covered that a worthy summary might be almost as long as the book itself.

To address this challenge, I have to chosen to merely list some of the summarizing statements that Beckwith includes at the end of each of the brief sections. I selected ones that I hope are thought-provoking and that stand well by themselves.

1.  Assume your service is bad. It can’t hurt, and it will force you to improve.

2.  Ask: Who is setting your service standards – your industry, your ego, or your clients?

3.  Create the possible service; don’t just create what the market needs or wants. Create what it would love.

4.  Every act is a marketing act. Make every employee a marketing person.

5.  If you’re selling a service, you’re selling a relationship.

6.  Before you try to satisfy "the client," understand and satisfy the person.

7.  Study each point of customer contact. Then improve each one – significantly.

8.  In large part, service marketing is a popularity contest.

9.  Be professional – but more importantly, be personable.

10.  You never know, so don’t assume that you should. Plan for several futures.

11.  Accept the limitations of planning. The greatest value of the plan is the process, not the result. Don’t plan your future. Plan your people.

12.  Execute passionately. Marginal tactics executed passionately almost always will outperform brilliant tactics executed marginally.

13.  Do it now. The obituary pages are filled with planners who waited.

14.  Have a healthy mistrust of what experience has taught you.

15.  Don’t let perfect ruin good.

16.  Start failing so you can start succeeding.

17.  Familiarity breeds business. Spread your word however you can.

18.  Forget looking like a superior choice. Make yourself an excellent choice. Then eliminate anything that might make you a bad choice.

19.  Each impression you make will – temporarily, at least – be your last. So make it strong.

20.  The best thing you can do for a prospect is eliminate her fear. Offer a trial period or a test project.

21.  Business is in the details. Accentuate the trivial.

22.  Stand for one distinctive thing that will give you a competitive advantage.

23.  To broaden your appeal, narrow your position.

24.  Invest in and religiously preach integrity. It is the heart of your brand.

25.  Your first competitor is indifference.

26.  Attack your first weakness: the stereotype the prospect has about you.

27.  Prospects do not buy how good you are at what you do. They buy how good you are at who you are.

28.  Give your marketing a human face.

29.  Tell people – in a single compelling sentence – why they should buy from you instead of someone else.

30.  Use vivid words. You cannot bore someone into buying your product.

31.  Make your service easy to buy.

32.  Don’t sell your service. Sell your prospect.

33.  Above all, sell hope.

34.  Don’t raise expectations you cannot meet.

35.  Out of sight is out of mind.

I hope these brief strategies prompt you to want to learn more and to make some changes to how you think about and market your services.