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Selling the Invisible

A Field Guide to Modern Marketing

By Harry Beckwith
  • Read in 19 minutes
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  • Contains 13 key ideas
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Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith

Services represent a significant and growing portion of the modern economy, yet marketing them remains a mystery. Selling the Invisible (1997) serves as a guide for promoting the intangible. It outlines how to set up a marketable service company, and how that business can then be advertised and promoted.

Key idea 1 of 13

Services are playing an increasingly important part in the economy.

These days, the American economy is going through some profound changes. Jobs that were seen as secure just a few decades ago have all but disappeared and new industries are springing up in the place of old ones.

One prominent shift is the staggering growth of the service industry, especially that of service companies: companies that sell services, such as banking, legal representation and even haircuts, rather than tangible products.

Over half of the companies in the Fortune 500 (Fortune magazine's list of top American companies) are service companies, and more than 75 percent of the working American public is employed in this sector, a percentage which continues to grow.

Yet it is not just the service sector itself that is growing; services are playing an increasing role in other sectors of the economy too, especially when it comes to products:

Retail sales have always been strongly supported by customer service. A department store such as Dayton's, for example, sells physical products like clothes, but at the end of the day its revenues depend on the salespeople and how much they sell.

Likewise, McDonald’s success relies on offering excellent customer service along with its popular fast food.

What’s more, the services provided are ever expanding. Products themselves are now often accompanied by value-adding services. When you buy computer software, for example, you rarely get the program alone; it usually comes with a number of services such as technical support and upgrades.

Another good example can be seen in Levi's popular Personal Pair jeans. After the customer has visited a Levi's store to have her measurements taken, Levi’s uses these measurements to create a custom pair of jeans that fit her perfectly, and the finished product is couriered directly to her home. The extra level of service makes the product particularly desirable.

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