Most companies we encounter don't market their product correctly. It's been 42 years since Theodore Levitt first introduced the term Marketing Myopia, and our marketing eyesight has not gotten much better. At the heart of the issue is focus: marketing should focus not on products but on customers. You may have Marketing Myopia as well. Let's find out.

The Yellow or Blue Test

Gather up all your marketing materials and strategic documents—everything you use to market your product. Get two highlighters (we like yellow and blue). Go through everything.

When you encounter what we'll call “you” words (that talk about your product or your company or something else about you) highlight them in yellow. When you encounter “them” words (that talk about the needs and problems of your marketplace, or something else about them), highlight them in blue.

Which color do you see most often?

1. If you see a whole lot of blue and not much yellow, you're a 20/20 marketer. Go ahead and do something more useful than read this article: You already have this topic nailed.

2. If you see a whole lot of yellow and not much blue, read on.

Focus Marketing on the Marketplace

If marketing were supposed to focus on your product, it would be called “producting.”

But it's not is it? It's called “marketing,” which means that marketing is supposed to focus on the marketplace—and the marketplace is made up of people: customers and prospects.

This focus on marketplace instead of product must form the basis of your strategic and tactical marketing—when you lose this focus your marketing loses its meaning.

Products exist only to satisfy a need or solve a problem. They have no inherent meaning outside of how well they do that for the marketplace.

It doesn't matter if your product uses advanced technology, or the latest alloys, or durable finishes or patented whiteners and brighteners. It only matters that it solves a problem or satisfies a need.

And when you sit down to devise your marketing strategy, or when you begin to assemble the tactical components you'll use to execute that strategy, this basic principle must guide every decision you make.

Look at the thing you're trying to market. Turn it around in your hand. Look behind it. Underneath it. Touch it. Use it. Understand it.

Then ask yourself the simple question: What does this do for my customer?

The answer to that question is not simple to arrive at, but once you've got it, it forms the foundation of everything marketing that you do.

Force Yourself to Say So What

Here's a little drill we always use to reach that answer. Ask a very simple question with unrelenting insistence.

So what?

And don't give up until you really can't answer it anymore—when you reach that point, you've likely reached the true value of your product to your marketplace. Here's what I mean:

Q: So tell me, what does your toothpaste do for the marketplace?

A: Well, it contains our newly patented Gluricil 234, a new and powerful whitening agent that removes plaque and stains from teeth.

Q: So what?

A: That means that when you use it over a sufficient period of time a lot of the yellow stains on your teeth will be removed.

Q: So what?

A: That means that your teeth will be whiter.

Q: So what?

A: Well, that means that when people see your teeth, your teeth will look better.

Q: So what?

A: Well, if you're a young person you'll be more attractive to people you want to be attractive to.

Q: So what?

A: You'll have more fun. And if you're older, you'll look younger.

Q: So what?

A: Well, you'll feel better about yourself.

Q: So what?

A: What do you mean so what . . . that's it: more fun and a better self image.

Q: Ah, I understand now. You sell fun and self-confidence.

And that's something the customer wants. Something you can position a product on. Something that sells.

This kind of exercise is essential to good marketing. Getting out of the yellow and into the blue is the best way to craft a marketing strategy and a marketing message that will hit the marketplace where it counts—right between the eyes of its own self interest.

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image of Michael Fischler

Michael Fischler is founder and principal coach and consultant of Markitek (, which for over a decade has provided marketing consulting and coaching services to companies around the world, from startups and SMEs to giants like Kodak and Pirelli. You can contact him by clicking here.