Make customer contact part of research; a better deviled-egg serving trayThe term “marketing myopia” was coined because it is so easy for companies to be “nearsighted” about their marketing.
You may be nearsighted in the sense that you lack perspective because you are too close to your business. (You are to be forgiven for this most human of dilemmas.) You may tend to view your product or service just from your side of the fence. You may overly identify with how hard you work, how difficult your product is to produce, how clever, beautiful, efficient or unique it is.
On the other hand, some companies under-appreciate their product or service. Being on the inside, you may see that it’s "not perfect." You may be overly concerned that competitors offer similar products, or perhaps you're already excited about your Next Great Idea.
The leadership lesson here is the vital importance of achieving an arm’s length distance from your service or product so that you can see it as objectively as possible. Only when you have a relatively objective understanding and appreciation of your offering can you effectively make strategic decisions about how to market it.
There are a number of ways to gain objectivity. One of the most basic and reliable is getting feedback from your customers or clients, which is the method that will concern us here. This type of market research can fall anywhere on a continuum from formal to informal. You can employ a variety of methods, from structured interviews and surveys to simply asking your most esteemed customers for their opinions while sharing a cup of coffee. The crux of the matter is to determine what type of information you need, the best way to go about getting it and then following through.
Once you are satisfied with the quality of your information, you have the opportunity to apply insight. The following classic formulas apply particularly well to marketing:
Information + Insight = Knowledge.
Knowledge + Experience = Wisdom.
Wisdom + Imagination = Genius.
And that should be your aspiration in order to develop truly effective marketing strategies. The key is gaining perspective and objectivity through feedback, using the information intelligently and then adding the spark of creativity and imagination. In a challenging economy, mastering the art of marketing is even more critical to business success than it is during thriving times.
During a visit to one of my clients, Corrick’s in downtown Santa Rosa, a fortuitous conversation offered a great illustration of how one company stays in touch with its customers. Corrick's, a gift and stationery store now in its fourth generation as a family business, was hosting a personal signing of Wilton Armetale serving pieces by Fred Wilton, formerly president of the company and now chairman of the board. Talking with Mr. Wilton about his company, I learned that Wilton Armetale is also a family business, founded as a metal casting company in 1892. Fred’s father, Ralph Wilton, created its unique non-toxic, food-safe alloy line of metal serving pieces over 40 years ago when a friend asked him to develop some pieces for his new restaurant in New York. Their manufacturing company is located in Lancaster County, Pa., and has 120 employees.