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“Invisible” Wisdom, Part 2

Previously, I was
highlighting a few of the great points that Harry Beckwith makes in his
book, Selling the Invisible.  I wanted to continue with two final
points that I think are worth the consideration of anyone in the
technology or service industry.

Dominos 30 minutes

4. “Stand
for one distinctive thing that
will give you a competitive advantage”

Beckwith spends a lot time stressing the
importance of good positioning.  He takes four rules from Al Ries and
Jack Trout’s book Positioning:

  1. You must position yourself in your prospect’s mind
  2. Your position should be singular: one simple message.
  3. Your position must set you apart from your competitors
  4. You must sacrifice.  You cannot be all things to all people;
    you must focus on one thing.

examples include Domino’s Pizza, who never made any claims regarding
price or quality, but told everyone that their pizza would be there in
30 minutes or it was free, therefore taking the position as the quickest
pizza delivery chain. Now, Domino’s has set the industry standard for
delivery time.  

As mentioned earlier, when one company raises the
consumer’s expectations, everyone must react.  Today, no matter who is
delivering your pizza, you expect it to be there in 30 minutes or less.
 Because that is now the standard, Domino’s is currently in the midst of
a new campaign based on quality.  Despite the campaign change, they
stay focused on a single topic.  There is no discussion of price or
delivery time, just quality pizza.

broaden your appeal, sometimes you have to narrow your position.
 Newfangled has done this since around 2000.  Instead of a website
development company for anyone needing a site of any size, Newfangled
has positioned itself as a company that “works with ad agencies,
marketing firms, and in-house marketing departments to build
conversion-focused websites for mid-sized businesses.”  Website
development is becoming an increasingly large field, but this narrowed
focus positions Newfangled in a niche where they can be a leader and
focus on what they do well, therefore increasing Newfangled’s appeal and
solidifying their place in the market.  Not to mention the SEO benefits
of a clearly-defined area of expertise.

5. “Holding on to what you’ve
got: nurturing and keeping clients”

Bingo.  They say to save the best for last, and I wanted to
save this chapter because I feel that it speaks to what every service
company strives to do – keep clients.  This chapter was also near the
end of Beckwith’s book, however, it was one of my favorites.

One of the most important things that Beckwith points out is
dealing with expectations.  A service company must not make promises it
cannot deliver.  Your prospects and clients should have realistic
expectations of what you are going to deliver.  If you allow them to
expect your service to be perfect, even a very very good service will
leave them dissatisfied and thinking that you misled them.

Beckwith describes a customer’s satisfaction as “the gap
between what the customer expects and what she gets.”  An example of
this can be seen simply by sending a letter to California.  The letter
gets there three days later.  Is this service acceptable?  Well, it is
horrible for an overnight service and absolutely outrageous for a fax,
but for a letter, it is perfectly fine.  This example really illustrates
how managing the customer’s expectations can help you maintain their
satisfaction as well.  You should set realistic expectations and then
aim higher.  Whatever you do, avoid hype.

The last point that Beckwith stresses about client
relationships is the amount that you should thank your clients for their
business and continually remind them that you are there, working for
them.  With the purchase of a new car, the shinny exterior, the new car
smell and the softness of the slick new leather seats are all constant
reminders of money well-spent.  Services, being intangible, cannot do
this, so the service provider must go out of their way to stay in touch
with clients, thanking them and reminding them of all of the things that
the provider is continuing to do.

Newfangled has set an example in this category.  The project
managers set up regularly-scheduled times to chat with all of their
clients who are on our Total Managed Support plan, and
they are more than willing to answer any questions that come in from
clients and help solve any bugs that may arise.  After a site goes live, Newfangled does not go
, but instead, keeps reminding clients that they are still
around and willing to help.

integrates analytics into all of their sites to measure performance and
track site activity.  Also, Newfangled is always looking far ahead at
technology trends and helping clients to remain ahead of the curve with
their websites and internet marketing efforts.  These are great ways to
stay in touch with clients and avoid being “out of sight, out of mind.”

I’ll wrap it up simply by saying that I
suggest everyone in a service industry check out this book.  In fact,
even those in a business that sells a product can learn a lot from the
lessons in Selling the Invisible.  The book will alter the way
you think about selling and marketing a service, and despite the age of
the book, almost every word is still applicable today – just another
illustration of the strength of each lesson.

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