Don’t Market to Yourself

There’s an old marketing rule that states, “Don’t market to yourself.” Like many adages, it has the benefit of being true. Marketing is for your customers, not for you.

Many small business marketers make the mistake of  developing marketing strategies and materials that please the owners of the business instead of its customers. However, customers usually  value very different things from the company’s own management.

Let’s take an optometrist practice as an example. Optometrists are wonderfully skilled at analyzing and treating eyes. Most of them love eyes, and in marketing conversations I’ve had with them, they want to focus on what they do best: eyes. But that usually makes for bad marketing.

Here are two recent optometrist ads I found that embody optometrists’ love for eyes:

These ads are ineffective because optometrists’ patients don’t spend all day looking at or thinking about isolated eyes. Non-optometrists consider eyes in their context – as part of the face. Many people even become uncomfortable or squeamish when viewing a large photo of an isolated eyeball. Those certainly aren’t the feelings optometrists want to encourage when someone thinks about visiting the eye doctor.

For the ad visuals, it would be better to show what patients value, such as living a better life because they can see, or feeling more beautiful because they have contacts instead of glasses. At the very least, optometrists should include whole faces in their advertisements.

Although my optometrist example is very obvious, these lessons apply to all small businesses. What is your business’s “eyeball?” Are there details your marketing strategy focuses on that don’t provide context for your customer? Have you asked your customers what they value? For good marketing, identify who your customers are and what they want before you embark on any marketing ventures.

And don’t market to yourself.

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