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Selling the Invisible

A Field Guide to Modern Marketing

By Harry Beckwith
19-minute read
Audio available
Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing 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.

  • Anyone who provides a service
  • Anyone who owns a service-based business
  • Marketing or advertising professionals
  • Anyone interested in marketing or advertising 

Harry Beckwith had a successful marketing career before going on to become an influential speaker on sales and marketing topics. He gives lectures to employees at large national companies as well as to students at Ivy League universities, and is considered one of the best public speakers in his field. He has written five best-selling titles, including Selling the Invisible and Unthinking.

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Selling the Invisible

A Field Guide to Modern Marketing

By Harry Beckwith
  • Read in 19 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 12 key ideas
Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing by Harry Beckwith
Synopsis

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 12

It’s difficult to market services because they’re intangible and their quality varies.

In many ways, services are very different from physical products. For example, they can't be seen or touched, nor can they be mass-produced. This makes them very difficult to market effectively.

Traditionally, the product being sold plays a large role in marketing, but in the case of services the "product" is largely invisible. Marketing is easier when there’s a physical product to sell, as customers like to see what they are able to buy. This is why companies with easily identifiable products – for example, Porsche – concentrate on image-heavy advertising where the product takes center stage.

Obviously, companies that sell services such as dry cleaning or insurance can’t display their “products” in the same way. Therefore, they are forced to rely on more abstract advertising techniques.

For example, the US firm Travelers Insurance has no physical product to display, so they’ve created an image of their company in another way: they chose an umbrella as their logo because it symbolizes protection.

Another difficulty with marketing services is that the quality of the “product” isn’t always consistent. Unlike physical products, where the standardized manufacturing procedure can be rigorously monitored, the quality of services can vary depending on elements such as which staff member serves you. This variation makes services difficult to market effectively.

For example, if a member of staff is rude to a customer, then it doesn’t matter how good the marketing is, that customer will be wary of choosing any service from that company again.

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