Selling Intangibles

beautiful-things-866736_640Recently I was comparing notes with a client who also happens to be in a very similar line of work to me. What she does and how she markets it and her challenges are very close to my own. This is helpful for us both. Our niches are completely different but our services are the same, and many of our goals, aims and ambtions too, though there are differences there too, of course.

My client has come up with a genius idea. Her niche also lends itself to things, as well as to services. And I was explaining my delight (and envy) that she’d thought to explore these possibilities. We were giddy with excitement, truth to tell.

Selling intangibles can sometimes get wearing. One of the things on which my brother and I are agreed (he from a banking background, me from an accounting one) is how much we wished – at times – that we made things. So that at the end of the day you could point to the lovely thing you’d made. You could hold it in your hand, or rub your hands over it, you could enjoy the tangible pleasure of it, you could see it and point to it. And feel proud.

And although I am sure my client, my brother and me have all felt proud at the work we’ve done and the ways in which we have helped other people with our services, we can’t hold those wins in our hands, only in our hearts.

I have clients who make things. Writers who make books. Artists who make pictures. Websites. Films. Podcasts. Events. And even now I am sliding into services, which is what the rest of us make and create. And services always need doing, which is a good thing, but a thing once completed will always be a thing and, mostly, a joy forever.

They say that Britain is good at services and that we export creativity, education, fashion and music and, of course, financial services but I think I am just musing today on the fact that it would be lovely to sell a real live thing sometimes, instead of an intangible.

I know that I do good with my intangibles but it is often very difficult to get the benefits across in advance whereas, with a thing, the benefits are usually self-evident. The thing is attractive or useful and we know we want it and we’ll find the money for it.

With an intangible service we know it might do us good and we probably ought to have it but we are uncertain. Sometimes it is harder to invest in ourselves than buy something which is cheaper and which everyone knows what it does and how it works. And everyone in your home can enjoy it too. How abundant!

This is a strange topic for me, a minimalist, to be musing on because I certainly don’t want any more things in my own life. Which means that were I to invent a thing it would need to be useful, beautiful and/or joyful, in order to justify my customers giving it house room!


PS For the sake of the romance of this piece, I am glossing over the challenges of manufacturing and holding stock but, believe me, I am all too aware of them too. Just sayin’. Grass. Greener. Yup, I know.

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