What Clients Love: A Field Guide to Growing Your Business by Harry Beckwith

Today’s recommended book read is “What Clients Love: A Field Guide to Growing Your Business” by Harry Beckwith.

The author of this book, Harry Beckwith is a critically-acclaimed international best-selling author, and best known for his marketing classics, ‘Selling The Invisible’ and ‘The Invisible Touch’. He is highly recognised for his leadership and advisory services with Beckwith Partners – a marketing firm that advises twenty-three Fortune 200 clients and ventures. He applies his unparalleled clarity, insight, humour and experiences to a new age of mass communications and mass confusion.

Firstly you may feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of savvy, practical insights and tips Beckwith offers in this book – short 1-2 page memorable anecdotes ending in an aphorism on business. But very quickly you’ll realise it all connects with your experiences in business, and the advice given is clearly written and insightful. It’s a great business book for someone just starting out. You’ll be wishing you read this book sooner.

What Clients Love will teach you how to stand out from the competition. From making a pitch to building a successful brand. In particular, he provides the following tips.

Planning means more than making a plan

He explains the benefits of planning is to choose one option from many possibilities, stick to it and to follow it. Learning from past experiences can save a business owner time and money. This is a very common saying, but don’t assume all decision will be successful and, therefore, having a contingency plan in place is an effective risk strategy and should be a vital component of your business plan – as it can maximise the successes and minimises any possible failures. Beckwith reminds you to keep moving forward and continue to plan around what you can predict.

Understanding your business

He takes a different approach to understanding your business in qualitative terms; that’s underlying reasons, opinions and motivations rather than a statistical or measurable response. He suggests not only to understand your business by benchmarking against others but instead ask questions, which can provide a direct response – such as, “What would people love?”. This can easily done by simply being straightforward to your client and asking these basic questions.

What our client wishes

We pay for what we love and drawn to products or services that are consistent with the same values, attitudes, beliefs and needs. Obviously, when a product is inconsistent with these factors, the customer will withdraw attention. This is why it is crucial to consistently follow your customers purchasing behaviours and patterns in their lifestyle. If you don’t know your clients’ wishes… ask them!

Take opportunities

He coins the term, ‘white-hot centres’, to refer to key areas and followers of your product and services. He explains this term with a Nike case study. In the case study, Nike approached American universities in the early 1970’s to promote their sporting wear and shoes, and evidentially, this was where many of their Olympic runners trained. Think of where your customers may emerge, their very beginnings and then explore the opportunities to sponsor and promote your offerings as it may be the exposure to become a household name, such as Nike.

Missions and values

Beckwith explains the ‘big picture’ of the organisation should be the main pitch for organisations. He suggests the word ‘mission’ no longer has a strong effect on businesses. He states it’s a word more commonly used by comedians, such as Blue Brothers – “We are on a mission from God”. He claims it should be perhaps replaced with, our bigger picture, why are we here, the difference we will make and the organisation’s overall vision? If a company has this written, he strongly advises companies to display this at their reception area or in their employee handbook. As these values should be carried throughout the organisation and be a consistent reminder.

The internet

Beckwith suggests that it is not an enormous marketing tool – I suggest that when he wrote the book back in 2003 did couldn’t have envisaged how influential social media would become. He contends that “The Internet” is not the business but only supports it. However, I believe that if Beckwith was rewriting this chapter today, his views might be a little more mature on the topic. While nothing can replace face-to-face contact with our clients, to ignore the various shades of feedback carried on social media is a perilous move in modern society.

Too much choice

He mentioned, which is very obviously with the competitiveness of the markets, that we are living in the world of too many choices to choose from. And explains with easy access to online information where clients can compare products and services and retrieve information. They have the advantage of more choice to choose a business with the most trustworthy and seemingly competent person, or make no choice at all. To stand out from the crowd, Beckwith says you must be something different, make each word count and makes sure it differs from what clients are already hearing. Let them stop and think to cut through all the noise.

First impressions

First impressions are everything – this does matter. We make an immediate judgement about the first encounter and our perception of their business and value offerings can completely be based on this. Beckwith describes how the hotel Ritz-Carlton offers their employees a mantra for each day to exhibit certain behaviours and daily habits to resemble their ideal corporate perception. It might be “remember each quest’s name and use it often” or “tidy up anything that looks out of order”. These mantras soon quickly become naturally to their employees, second nature; part of their way of thinking and working. Those actions become ingrained in their attitudes.

Making yourself known and the power of the brand

Promote your business to create a better relationship with clients. The more they hear or see something, the more you tend to identify with it. Although Beckwith doesn’t quite put it this way, what I believe he is attempting to say is, “a brand for a business is like a reputation for a person”. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your own business is an essential starting point in creating and developing a worthwhile brand.

Follow the rules of the best sales people

Beckwith contends that the most successful sales people sell themselves first, and then their business, their service/product and lastly their price. Again, I have a different view to Beckwith – perhaps because his book is more than a decade old.

Today’s client is even more time poor that they were in 2003 when this book was written. And many clients want to know that ‘value’ that a sales person can represent to them before investing any time with that salesperson. This leaves little time for the salesperson to go through the process of selling themselves. Their approach and positioning statement must demonstrate client-centric value at the outset or they may not even get past the first two minutes of a client interaction. Overtly, selling oneself can often be perceived as arrogance. Whereas, selling ‘value’ is more likely to be perceived as confidence.


Beckwith suggests that people are loyal to the people and not the business. They tend to keep in mind what you’ve done for them and in return, they for you. You should connect with people at a personal level. There is a borderline between keeping business and personal matters separately, but knowing your clients at more personal basis can be the differentiation to whether they stay or go.

Staying connected

Connect with your clients in their community. Perhaps allow them to contribute to your newsletter. Connecting your clients will help connect them with you.

And finally put passion in everything you do and you will most likely achieve your goals easier!

Author: Roslyn Bonanno, Editor: Gabrielle D’Cruze