If you are a digital marketing professional, you might have heard the expression “marketing myopia”, at some point.
But do you know, exactly, what this means, and what its potential implications are for your business?
Our guide right here is a must-read for anyone wanting to dig deeper into the world of marketing myopia, its causes, its consequences, and its prevention.
Let’s jump in!
What is Marketing Myopia?
In medical language, “myopia” refers to the common eye condition which makes it difficult to see clearly from a distance.
Aptly, this term was transferred to the marketing sphere back in 1960, when Theodore C. Levitt first started talking about “marketing myopia”.
The concept identifies companies that only focus on short-term goals and strategies, neglecting to address their customers’ needs and desires.
Marketing myopic businesses obsess with selling the products or services they already have, as opposed to investing in improving them to better serve their customers.
What are the Causes of Marketing Myopia?
Let’s take a look at the top three causes of marketing myopia.
#1. Losing Touch with Your Customers’ Needs and Desires
Why are you in business? Surely, to satisfy your customers’ needs and desires, correct?
If so, then you don’t ever want to lose sight of them — or, even better, you want to try and anticipate them.
Ignoring or neglecting what your customers want or expect from your brand is one of the top causes of marketing myopia.
Not listening to your customers’ suggestions, requests, or feedback and, as a consequence, not improving your products or services, will gradually cause your business to develop marketing myopia.
#2. Believing Yours Is the Best (and Only) Possible Product or Service
Another cause of marketing myopia is the extreme arrogance that some businesses display by thinking that what their offer is better than anything else.
Not only better but also irreplaceable.
So, as long as you are not selling something that caters to a very small and specific niche, you are always at risk of being overtaken by another company.
Ignoring this possibility is a cause of marketing myopia.
#3. Focusing on Past Achievements While Ignoring Future Challenges and Opportunities
Yes, your business has been doing great so far, but do you have a plan in place to secure success in the future, too?
If you keep basking in your past glory without committing to doing even better next time, you can fall into the marketing myopia trap.
Being an innovator can be scary and challenging for businesses, but it is also an essential feature of all successful companies in the digital age.
The Implications for “Myopic Businesses”
We don’t mean to be blunt or catastrophic, but the biggest and most dangerous implication of marketing myopia is business failure.
Mind you, this won’t probably happen overnight. You can spot the initial signs and react quickly to avoid complete disaster.
In the beginning, you might notice that customers become frustrated and unhappy with your product or services.
Then, some of them will leave and move on to your competitors. The more you lose established customers, the more you lose the trust, credibility, and reliability you need to acquire new ones.
Eventually, your business might fail and shut down permanently — that’s how dangerous marketing myopia is.
How Can Your Business Avoid Marketing Myopia?
Check out five essential ways in which your business can avoid contracting marketing myopia.
1. Always Put the Customer First
Don’t even think about being customer-centric: the key is being customer-first.
Always do everything around your customer: their needs, their wants, their expectations, their frustrations, their problems.
If you are getting feedback that what you offer doesn’t satisfy your customers, work hard to rectify it — and follow up with a new and improved version of your products or services.
2. Define a Clear, Realistic Plan and Vision
Remember what we said about planning for the future? This is crucial to avoid marketing myopia.
Regardless of how well your company is doing today, you still need to have a clear vision for tomorrow.
Try to anticipate any potential issues and opportunities, and come up with creative, productive ways to handle them.
3. Keep Focusing on Great Marketing
Marketing doesn’t end once you have launched a new product or service.
Keep at it by continuing to promote your brand across different channels and engaging with your customers at every touchpoint.
4. Keep a Close Eye on Your Competitors
“Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer” works a treat in marketing.
So, we strongly encourage you to always monitor your rivals if you want to avoid marketing myopia.
What are they up to? Have they launched a new product or service that seems particularly appealing to your customers? Are there any new threats or opportunities for you?
5. Embrace Change and Innovation
Trying something new can be daunting, especially when your business is concerned.
But, as they say, “fortune favors the brave” — so be brave and invest in changes and innovations that make sense for your brand.
Experimenting can also show your customers the lengths you are willing to go in order to satisfy their ever-changing needs and wishes, which in turn boosts customer loyalty and satisfaction.
Top 3 Examples of Marketing Myopia
These three companies suffered from marketing myopia — and paid hard for it. Let’s take a look at what happened, exactly, and learn from their mistakes.
Once upon a time, weekend entertainment was served by Blockbuster. Do you remember? It was pretty exciting.
On Fridays and Saturdays, you’d drive to your nearest Blockbuster store and spend varying amounts of time browsing through a seemingly never-ending stream of neatly organized VHS.
Then, you’d go back home (often with a few extra snacks picked up at the checkout) and wind down with a good movie.
Now, the idea of physically going to a store to select a movie to watch — and pay for it each time — seems ludicrous to say the least. But before we all moved to at-home, on-demand, digital streaming services like Netflix, something was already happening.
With the advent of the internet, and the hyper-fast pace of digital life, our weekly trips to Blockbuster withered.
We discovered DVDs, and then we discovered a company that delivered DVDs straight to our front doors. That company was, of course, Netflix.
And although Marc Randolph, its original CEO, had tried to sell the company to Blockbuster for $50 million, the offer was turned down with a laugh by Blockbuster’s CEO John Antioco.
In the meantime, the digital era was growing, our visits to the local Blockbuster were plummeting, and the convenience of having movies by our front door was irresistible.
Netflix kept doing well because it was offering people exactly what they wanted. Blockbuster, on the other hand, kept ignoring this fact all along, focusing on its self-perceived superiority in the video rental market.
We all know how the story ends. Netflix eventually overtook Blockbuster, with the latter falling from grace and closing its doors for good in 2014.
Things didn’t end so catastrophically for Nokia, although the Finnish company suffered from a bad case of marketing myopia, too. And not only that, but it made myopic mistakes twice.
First of all, it didn’t take the iPhone seriously enough. Why? Simply because iPhones didn’t pass Nokia’s “fall test”, getting consistently smashed when dropped on concrete from a height.
The second time, it was all about operating systems. In 2008, Google made an entrance into the mobile phone market and launched its own operating system: Android.
Most of Nokia’s competitors were quick to jump on the Android bandwagon, with Nokia stubbornly remaining faithful to its complicated — and rapidly declining — operating system until well into 2011.
In that year, Nokia decided to move away from its operating system, but it didn’t adopt Android: it, irresponsibly, chose to team up with Windows Phone, which became Nokia’s new operating system.
As you probably know, Windows Phone is now discontinued because it never really took off.
Nokia paid hard for its inability to see past its own products and solutions, and its choice to embrace Android in 2014 was not enough to seal the company’s success.
Raise your hand if you use Yahoo as your go-to search engine. Right, we can’t see many hands up!
This is because Yahoo has long been surpassed by Google, which has now established itself as the main search engine worldwide.
But things could have gone differently. In 2002, Yahoo had the chance to acquire Google, for “just” $1 billion.
Yahoo’s leaders politely declined. By the time they had changed their mind, Google was now priced at $3 billion.
Marketing myopia can be truly catastrophic for your business.
In this guide, we have delved deep into what causes marketing myopia, how to avoid it, and which companies not to imitate.
Would you like even more help and resources on digital marketing? Then, check out RockContent’s Global Marketing Playbook here!