Beckwith, Harry 1949-

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BECKWITH, Harry 1949-

PERSONAL: Born May 13, 1949, in Portland, OR; son of Harry G. (a surgeon) and Alice S. (a registered nurse) Beckwith; married Valerie Jouquette (marriage ended); married Susan Wilson; children: Harry IV, Will, Cole, Cooper (daughter). Education: Stanford University, B.A., 1972; University of Oregon, J.D., 1975. Politics: "Disenchanted." Hobbies and other interests: Running, photography, reading, bridge, kids.

ADDRESSES: Home—3830 Abbott Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55410. Office—Beckwith Advertising and Marketing, Ste. 600, Lumber Exchange Bldg., 10 South Fifth St., Minneapolis, MN 55402; fax: 612-304-4421. Agent—Jonathon Lazear, Lazear Agency, 430 First Ave. N., Ste. 416, Minneapolis, MN 55401. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Gearin, Cheney, Landis, Aebi & Kelly (law firm), Portland, OR, associate attorney, 1976–77; City of Portland, assistant city attorney, 1977–82; Carmichael-Lynch, Minneapolis, MN, writer, 1982–85, creative supervisor, 1985–88; Beckwith Advertising and Marketing, Minneapolis, principal, 1988–. Lecturer at University of St. Thomas and University of Minnesota—Twin Cities; guest on television programs. Snowmass Institute, founding partner and member of board of directors. American Heart Association, volunteer.

MEMBER: Phi Beta Kappa.

AWARDS, HONORS: Eppie Award, American Marketing Association.


Selling the Invisible, Warner (New York, NY), 1997.

The Invisible Touch, Warner (New York, NY), 2000.

What Clients Love: A Field Guide to Growing Your Business, Warner (New York, NY), 2003.

WORK IN PROGRESS: A novel, The Last Resort.

SIDELIGHTS: Harry Beckwith's years of experience in the field of marketing have made him a valued asset to many top businesses, and his books, including The Invisible Touch and Selling the Invisible, have won him further respect in the marketing industry and the business world at large.

In Selling the Invisible, Beckwith advances the opinion that no matter what a company's product, its quality of service to its customers is the real key to winning loyalty. This concept holds true in both service industries and product-based industries, Beckwith believes. Selling the Invisible uses numerous real-life anecdotes to illustrate the author's strategies for successful marketing. Among his key points are the importance of listening to customers, sending effective messages about products, and building long-term relationships with clients. Selling the Invisible is a book that "can be easily dipped into and digested," commented a reviewer for Marketing. Barbara Jacobs, discussing Selling the Invisible in Booklist, called it a "very human, much-needed book to savor and be refreshed by."

Beckwith extends his ruminations on marketing research and considers its limits in The Invisible Touch. He outlines four segments of effective marketing: brand, price, packaging, and relationships. Beckwith also mounts a challenge to the popular theory of "best-practice" procedure, which advocates following whatever strategy is employed by the leader in a given field. Instead, Beckwith believes that each company must find its own unique path to success. The Invisible Touch was rated as a worthwhile book by Harvey Mackay in the Providence Business News. Though finding much material repeated from the author's previous work, MacKay noted that Beckwith "has the knack … of retreading old turf well."

Beckwith imparted more wisdom in his handbook What Clients Love: A Field Guide to Growing Your Business. Using an anecdotal style, he focuses on business planning and winning new customers. Booklist critic David Siegfried found the author's breezy style to be a plus, commenting, "These lessons make for great inspiration, better left on your desk to flip through at random rather than read straight through." Miami Herald reviewer Richard Pachter also praised the "short, highly digestible chapters perfect for those of us with preternaturally short attention spans." Despite the book's brevity, however, Pachter added that Beckwith "covers a very broad spectrum of business practices, theories and fallacies" in this "amazing and important little book."

Beckwith told CA: "I think I emerged from the womb and reached for a pencil. By fifth grade I was handwriting each of five columns of copy for a school newspaper I had created and called the Seagull Log. Loving to put words on paper and to hear people's responses inspired me to keep writing. The teaching and practice of journalism and a desire to study everything but journalism, however, steered me away. I made a second flawed career move—flawed because I hate rules and still chose the profession of law. That move somehow managed to point me to my last and best move, into marketing and advertising. My profession combines words with visual images, and its successful practice demands vividness, succinctness, originality, and honesty—demands which transfer nicely into all writing.

"Most people will recoil at the very idea of a business author being inspired by anything other than naked commerce and speaking invitations, but several 'legitimate' writers and artists have strongly affected me. These include John McPhee, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Tom Wolfe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, E. B. White, and Dr. Seuss, and the great storytellers since Euripides. I write in fanatical spurts: two thousand words one day and none for several days after. The ideas percolate for some time; I often conceive of and assemble them in my head, during my thirty-five-minute daily runs. I then return to my office and jot down an outline that quickly becomes a first draft. I edit the first draft at least thirty times before stopping, often arbitrarily.

"My first and next book, both on marketing, began as speeches. A colleague read a draft of my speech and insisted that I get it published. I did, in a Minneapolis business magazine, which was read by the literary agent Jonathon Lazear. He called me immediately to suggest that I write a book."

Discussing a novel in progress, Beckwith stated, "The setting is well established—the summer of 1963 on the coast of Oregon—but the title isn't. My sister-in-law suggested that I write a book about the ocean resort summers of my parents and their friends, and their very unusual, almost Gatsby-like lives a continent away from East Egg. In its current form, the book is about beauty at its best and worst, the ethos of the few years before Kennedy's death, the very odd but charming way that almost all of us grew up, and anything else that inspires me without getting in the way of my tale of two twenty-year-old boys growing up in the town with the last stop on the train to heaven."



Booklist, March 1, 1997, Barbara Jacobs, review of Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing, p. 1096; March 15, 2000, David Rouse, review of The Invisible Touch: The Four Keys to Modern Marketing, p. 1301; December 15, 2002, David Siegfried, review of What Clients Love: A Field Guide to Growing Your Business, p. 714.

Library Journal, May 15, 1997, Dale Farris, review of Selling the Invisible, p. 117; August, 2000, Littleton M. Maxwell, review of The Invisible Touch, p. 120.

Marketing, August 23, 2001, review of Selling the Invisible, p. 56; September 19, 2002, review of The Invisible Touch, p. 56.

Miami Herald, December 23, 2002, Richard Pachter, review of What Clients Love.

Providence Business News, March 12, 2001, Harvey MacKay, review of The Invisible Touch, p. 23.

Publishers Weekly, January 27, 1997, review of Selling the Invisible, p. 91; December 23, 2002, review of What Clients Love, p. 60.

Sales & Marketing Management, April, 2000, review of The Invisible Touch, p. 22.

Security Management, August, 2003, Gene Ferraro and Kim Beckman, review of What Clients Love, p. 128.


Harry Beckwith Home Page, (August 26, 2004).