Selling the invisible – A field guide to Modern Marketing by Harry Beckwith

Main Lesson of the book: Position your brand in the mind of the consumer and in the market

This was an interesting and rather short read. I felt like this book made it a point to compress as much information as possible into as little amount of words possible. The book hints at concepts but never fully explains them in what seems to an understanding or perhaps hope that the reader is already aware of what the author means. This was a slight set back and after reading the 22 immutable laws, this felt somewhat like a repeat of what was already said. That is of course not the books fault but mine because I might just be reading a bit too much. This book never actually seemed to make a succinct point about what needs to be done or how it should be done but rather gives the reader a broad sense of what marketing is.

The book does make a clear point of the fact that consumers don’t necessarily want quality but rather want a story. So marketing needs to revolve around a story that the consumer can relate to. Which translate into a slogan that the consumer can either apply to themselves or a brand that feels familiar. Many a customer decide their purchasing decision based on feeling rather than logic. So it’s the brands responsibility to make sure that they are affiliated with a good feeling when it comes to the customers mind. That is what you call Brand Loyalty. It simply means that the consumer has positioned the brand at number 1 and they feel comfortable with it. Comfort means that consumers will no longer do any research on a better possibility or better quality because they will buy their preferred brand regardless. Even if they know that Brand “B” has superior quality, lasts longer and is cheaper, the consumer will still buy the brand they know and are comfortable with.

To make sure that your brand stays at number one within the mind of the consumer there are a few things your company needs to do. Your company needs to understand that every part of communication with your company is a part of your marketing. No matter how good the quality of your service is, or how inexpensive it is, if the sales person who is in contact with the customer all of the millions spent on advertising will be for naught. Your company needs to make sure that from the person who answers the phone to the CEO, all work in sync to make sure the brand is perceived a certain way. The CEO of Chrysler can’t be seen driving around in a BMW.

Selling the invisible uses McDonalds, Disney and FedEx as benchmarks for what quality should represent. It even went as far as to say that if you’re unsure on what service should look like, just copy Disney. Which if you think about it makes a lot of sense, because Disney puts in a lot of effort to make sure that everyone who is employed in their theme parks acts and behaves a certain. The goal of your company shouldn’t be to give the customer what they want, but to exceed their expectation and surprise them.

A method to improve your service and or quality is to admit that your product is bad. By admitting that your product is bad you are forcing yourself to improve it. And you also need to keep in mind who is setting the standard for your product. Is it you, the market, the consumer or your competition. Let go of your ego and accept that the consumers are setting the standards for your product. Which means that the consumer essentially decides what your marketing should be all about, and it is up to you to figure out what they want. A great point the book made is that some marketing campaigns actually make the mistake of telling everyone why their product is the best. Forgetting the rule that its not about them, but it’s about what the product can do for the consumer. Don’t make it about you, make it about them. Tell them a story about why your company is a great fit for their needs. Lower the boundary for your consumers by eliminating their fear. Keep it simple and try to own a word in their mind. Focus on that one word and make sure the consumer feels appreciated.

Selling the invisible made one point that really stuck with me and that was “never go for perfection”. I am a firm believer in that once one tries to obtain perfection they will do naught but procrastinate and wait for the perfect moment to reveal the perfect version of their product which will most likely never happen. The issue with waiting for the perfect moment is that your competitor will beat you to the market and leave you being second in a market you could have created. Another great point is that I shouldn’t trust my own experiences and memory. This might be weird for some because we have all been taught that we should trust our gut and our gut is based on our past experiences. But our memory isn’t some flawless machine that processes everything the way it exactly happened but rather it’s a flawed box where we just put the things we want to remember in. Basing our decisions or judgement on our past experiences will only mean we are bringing our own biases into it. Which is great in your own personal life, but when it comes to marketing, we need to let go of our ego and accept that the consumer might have a different perception than us.

The more companies are similar the more you need to make sure that the consumer knows the differences regardless of how small they might be. But make sure you don’t say too much, because the more you say, the less people hear. Keep it simple.

This book had a lot of similarities to the 22 laws of Marketing, so much so that at times they used the same examples. A point Selling the invisible made that really stood out was that Value isn’t a selling point nor is it a position point. Because everyone is selling value, everyone promises value, its inherent in the product you are offering. Selling the invisible isn’t a book you should read in the hopes to learn how to market your product, but rather a book you should read to open your eyes on the perspective you should use while marketing.  This book isn’t only for those who are selling a service but for everyone who wants to engage in communication with their consumers. Marketing isn’t a department, its your business.