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Selling the Invisible

Posted by Jeff Davis on Mon, Dec 05, 2016 @ 10:40 AM

Selling the Invisible is a brilliant book by Harry Beckwith.

It is one of my favorite books of all time and I have given away hundreds of copies to clients, friends and colleagues. 

This book was originally published in 1997 and I continue to give away copies. I also make it a point to read it at least twice per year.

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Whether you realize it or not, most of us "sell the invisible" everyday. If you are in any service business, you are selling the invisible. Think about it. When you go to a service provider, how do you know if they are an "expert"? There really isn't a test you could give them to find out if they are an expert. You just assume that they are - its the business they are in. When you get your brakes repaired do you ask, "Before you work on my car, what is the coefficient of friction you are using in the brake pads?" Not a chance.

Today at lunch, Harry reminded me (through his book, not in person) that service marketing is really relationship marketing.

For our friends at the YMCA, what prompts an individual join the Y?

Is it price? "Join the Y, we are the cheapest deal in town!" I hope not. While the Y is a "not for profit", they are not in business to lose money.

So how do you compete with the 24 Hour Fitness down the street that offers 24 hour key card access?

You don't. 

You can't be all things to all people. 

You will lose some members to these new fitness centers. But most of the members you lose, were members you were going to lose anyway. They did not see value in the service you provide at the cost you need to charge.

And face it, depending on the service, all of us are price shoppers. We all have interests where money is no object. And we have interests where we are primarily motivated by price. 

I play golf with Taylor Made equipment. Woods, irons, golf balls, towels. I saved up to afford the equipment I prefer. There are a lot of brands that cost less than Taylor Made, but they are of no interest to me. I wanted Taylor Made and refused to buy anything until I could afford them. It was an emotional decision.

I also need gasoline. But I have zero emotional attachment to the brand of gasoline that I buy. The cheapest gas is my brand. My perception is that all gasoline is the same.

All these individuals who left simply want a place to sweat. And while the Y allows you to sweat, this is not the core of the Y offering. At the Y you can sweat in a Zumba class. With people that share some of your interests. You are part of a community. And it is a community built as part of a relationship. The relationship is the core of the YMCA offeringIt is an emotional decision. Sweating is a by product.

Rather than chasing after the members who are defecting to the 24 hour fitness centers, focus your time and energy on prospects who look like your best members. Families with children. Senior Citizens. People who are looking to be a part of a family. Focus on promoting programs not available at the 24 hour fitness center. Do they have a pool? Child Care? Classes on Healthy Living? Summer camps? Swimming lessons?

And while you are focusing on new members, spend some effort and attention on your current members. If you want to do something proactive, right now, when was the last time you surveyed your members? You might be surprised at what you learn. 

Is your business losing sales? Thrive offers much more than websites and digital marketing services. We are a great sounding board. Give us a call. We would love tot alk to you. 419-776-7000. Or fill out the form!
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Topics: digital advetising, advertising, digital marketing


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