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What Marketing Myopia Is & Why Every Brand Should Avoid It [+Examples]

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What Marketing Myopia Is & Why Every Brand Should Avoid It [+Examples]

Most businesses want to grow and be successful, but what they often don’t realize is that success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes hard work, dedication, and a clear vision of what you want your business to become.

One of the biggest dangers that can prevent a business from achieving its goals is marketing myopia.

In this article, we will discuss what marketing myopia is, what causes it, how to avoid it, and some examples of businesses that have suffered from it.

It often leads to businesses making decisions that are not in the best interests of their customers or that fail to take into account changes in the marketplace.

Top Causes of Marketing Myopia

A Disconnect between The Business and Its Customers

The most common cause is a lack of understanding of what customers really want. This can happen when businesses focus too much on their own products and services and not enough on what customers are actually looking for.

Marketing myopia can also be caused by a lack of investment in marketing research. This can happen when businesses believe they already know everything they need to know about their customers and the marketplace.

An Unwillingness to Adapt

Another common cause is a failure to keep up with changes in the marketplace.

This can happen when businesses become too comfortable with their current products and services and fail to adapt to new trends or technologies.

A Focus on the Past, Instead of Future

Many businesses become myopic because they are too focused on the past.

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They may be reluctant to change their products or services, even when it is clear that customer needs have changed.

How to Avoid Marketing Myopia

1. Prioritize customer needs.

A few years ago, my favorite color was red, I ate takeout on a regular basis, and the only plants I took care of were artificial ones. Today, I cook 90% of my meals, I’m a new (and successful) plant mom, and orange is more my vibe now.

As individuals, we know our wants and needs change as we grow. But it’s often difficult for brands to expect the same of their customers.

It would be easier if consumers stayed the same – you’d only have to do market research once, identify the strategies that worked and stick with them. Unfortunately, the truth is more complicated than that.

A couple of months can make a world of difference in consumer behavior.

Take 2020 for instance – when the pandemic started in March, brands were forced to pivot their marketing strategies, and in some cases, their entire business models

Those who failed to realize this shift was necessary and relied solely on prior success likely experienced great financial loss.

However, not every shift is this drastic. Some happen over time.

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Take the topic of social responsibility. Ten years ago, this wasn’t a major concern for everyday consumers.

However, today, sustainability is a major selling point for consumers and impacts their purchasing decisions.

You can also look at the online landscape and how users are consuming content. Where blogging was 10 years ago podcasting is now.

This is all to say that keeping your finger on the pulse is key to avoiding a myopic business.

2. Foster innovation within your team.

Just because something has always been done a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the best way. That mentality is what leads to marketing myopia.

To break out of that, it’s important to create an environment in which your teams feel inspired to innovate.

What does this look like? It’s a combination of big and small actions like:

  • Inviting new ideas.
  • Experimenting with various strategies.
  • Allowing failure and risk-taking.
  • Hiring diverse perspectives.

By staying open-minded and flexible, you’ll be in a better position to avoid marketing myopia.

3. Invest in competitive intelligence.

One way to stay on top of your game is by keeping up with others in your industry.

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Competitive intelligence is the practice of monitoring and gathering data on your competitors through legal and ethical means. This can look like social media monitoring, setting up Google alerts for specific brands, and downloading offers to review content strategy.

Sites like Crayon, SEMrush, and Kompyte are great tools to help you leverage this intelligence into actionable insights to propel your company forward.

4. Optimize your marketing strategy.

When you get too comfortable in your approach, that’s when you risk marketing myopia.

Even if your marketing strategy is working well, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work on optimization. After all, companies like BlockBuster saw immense success – until they didn’t.

The past doesn’t dictate the future. However, it can help inform it.

With this in mind, review your data, take the time to gain insights, and then come up with ways to improve your performance.

Marketing Myopia Examples

1. BlockBuster

In the early 2000s, Blockbuster was the undisputed king of the video rental industry.

But by 2009, the company had filed for bankruptcy. What went wrong?

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Many experts believe that Blockbuster’s downfall was due to marketing myopia. The company was so focused on its existing business model that it failed to adapt to the changing marketplace.

As streaming services like Netflix and Hulu became more popular, Blockbuster refused to embrace them. Instead, they clung to their brick-and-mortar stores and DVD rentals, which eventually became obsolete.

2. Kodak

Kodak is another example of a company that fell victim to marketing myopia.

For years, Kodak was the leading name in photography. But as digital cameras became more popular, Kodak failed to adapt.

The company focused on film and prints, even as its customer base shifted to digital. As a result, they lost market share and eventually filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

3. Old Spice

Old Spice is a good example of a company that was able to avoid marketing myopia.

When the company was first founded, it marketed its products exclusively to men. But as the marketplace changed, Old Spice recognized that there was an opportunity to reach a wider audience.

They began to produce new products specifically for women and shift their marketing strategy. As a result, Old Spice was able to avoid the decline that many other companies have experienced.

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By staying focused on its customers and being willing to adapt to change, Old Spice was able to avoid marketing myopia.

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MARKETING

MOps leaders as psychologists: The modern mind-readers

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MOps leaders as psychologists: The modern mind-readers

This four-part series presents a framework that describes the roles and responsibilities of marketing operations leaders. This part discusses MOps leaders as psychologists, in addition to their roles as modernizers (see part 1) and orchestrators (see part 2).

Exposure to marketing during my early educational journey was limited. With a heavy math/science background, I chose the “easy” path and majored in engineering. I struggled in advanced engineering classes but thrived in electives — communications, business, organizational behavior — which was a sign for my future in marketing.

Because of my engineering background, I was fortunate to get an opportunity to join GE Healthcare through its entry-level leadership development program. There I was exposed to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). 

MRIs had become go-to diagnostic devices and subsequently were used in neuroscience. I was fascinated by their eventual application in fMRI: Functional MRI. These extensions helped us understand the most consequential medical mystery: how (and why) people do what they do.

fMRI uses the same underlying technology as conventional MRI, but the scanner and a medical contrast agent are used to detect increased blood flow in response to a stimulus in what is commonly referenced as “hot spots.”

fMRI reveals which of the brain’s processes “light up” when a person experiences different sensations, e.g., exposure to different images in common studies. As a result, we now know what parts of the brain are involved in making decisions.

Successful marketing ‘lights up’ customers’ brains

Traditional marketing campaigns and measurement left gaps in understanding how and why people choose to buy. We were dependent on aggregated data. 

With digital channels, we gain first-hand insights into an individual’s response to a stimulus, i.e., content. Here’s where the comparison picks up: 

  • We can observe nearly anything and everything that customers or prospects do digitally.
  • Most customers know that we can track (almost) everything that they do.
  • Because of that knowledge, customers expect contextual, value-based content, forcing marketing to provide more value in exchange for the permission to track.

Our goal as marketers is to make our customers and prospects “light up” with pleasure or satisfaction at each interaction. And, we now have the technology to track it. We are effectively reading minds — just as if it were an fMRI scan.

Here’s an overview of three of the primary psychology “tactics” that every marketer should know: 

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  • Priming is the attempt to trigger a subconscious reaction to stimuli that influences our conscious decisions. The most common application is in branding and first click-through impressions. If a customer continues their journey, then the use of aspirational product or service images in content are common priming approaches.
  • Social proof is perhaps the most common example, given the impact of word-of-mouth influence. It is commonly seen in product reviews and ratings. Content marketing often relies on case studies and customer testimonials to hear from “people like us.”
  • Anchoring refers to marketing’s role in pricing and discounting. Most decisions people make are relative to the initial set of information they have received.

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MOps leaders manage the mind-reading stack 

MOps leaders are modernizers that now manage the mind-reading martech stack. We then lead the orchestration efforts to analyze the response (the “scan” data) and “prescribe” the next steps of the campaign.

Two catalysts spawned the emergence for martech applications:

  • New channels that delivered stimulus (content) and collected responses: search, social media, retail commerce channels, etc.
  • Tools that organize and manage all of that response data, from foundational CRM platforms to marketing analytics and data enrichment.

These developments led to the new psychological skills that have become essential to the role of MOps leaders. 

Processing and interpreting intent data is an example. ZoomInfo illustrates how B2B marketers are accessing this capability. The company now provides buying signals to marketers based on their customers’ behaviors, in addition to the basic contact information that was the origin of its business. 

Intent data is already in widespread use. Six in 10 companies responding to a recent survey said they had or planned in the next year to implement intent measurement data solutions. 

The top challenges for effective intent data utilization fit squarely in the role/responsibilities of MOps leaders include:

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These trends support the conclusion of the first three parts of this series — that MOps leaders should aspire to be: 

  • Psychologists who elicit responses (i.e., “light up” the brains) of customers and prospects and interpret those signals for the business. 
  • Modernizers who adopt the technology that enables the activation of those signals.
  • Orchestrators who are cross-functional project managers and business partners with IT, legal and compliance.

Next time, I’ll complete the framework with a discussion of how the role of MOps leaders includes being a scientist, constantly testing and evaluating marketing efforts with teams of analytics specialists and data scientists. 

Editor’s note: This is the 3rd in a 4-part series. In case you missed them, part 1 (Modernizers) is here and part 2 (Orchestrators) is here.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Milt is currently Director of Customer Experience at MSI Data, an industry-leading cloud software company that focuses on the value and productivity that customers can drive from adopting MSI’s service management solutions.

With nearly 30 years of leadership experience, Milt has focused on aligning service, marketing, sales, and IT processes around the customer journey. Milt started his career with GE, and led cross-functional initiatives in field service, software deployment, marketing, and digital transformation.
Following his time at GE, Milt led marketing operations at Connecture and HSA Bank, and he has always enjoyed being labeled one of the early digital marketing technologists. He has a BS in Electrical Engineering from UW Madison, and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management.

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In addition to his corporate leadership roles, Milt has been focused on contributing back to the marketing and regional community where he lives. He serves on multiple boards and is also an adjunct instructor for UW-Madison’s Digital Marketing Bootcamp. He also supports strategic clients through his advisory group, Mission MarTech LLC.

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