Is Marketing Myopia Killing your Business?

What does an eye illness like myopia have to do with marketing? And how can it kill anything, let alone a business? Marketing myopia is a serious hazard to the health of your business, and here are some of the ways to prevent it before it spreads.

What is marketing myopia?

You may have heard of myopia before. Commonly called nearsightedness, it makes close objects look clear to the eye, while those in the distance remain blurred. The term marketing myopia was coined by Theodore Levitt all the way back in 1960 in a Harvard Business Review paper with the same name. To sum it up, it states that businesses will do better in the end if they concentrate on meeting customers’ needs rather than on selling products.

Sounds simple, right?

Unfortunately, it is an illness that leads many business straight to their deathbed. As Levitt pointed out, shortsightedness happens because of a simple reason… People think that they cannot predict the future. However, thanks to a range of tools available to marketers and business owners today, you can make safe predictions about future market trends.

Examples of marketing myopia

If you’re my age, you probably remember Blockbuster. Now a relic of the past, Blockbuster was a video rental company that absolutely dominated the US market, with stores in thousands of locations coast-to-coast, chock-filled with DVDs and VHS tapes. However, their late fees and deadlines for returns were a huge pain for the clients. 

Blockbuster as a case of marketing myopia


 In came Netflix, who allowed you to get DVDs in your mailbox. Blockbuster’s logic was the following – who would sit and wait for a DVD in their mail when they can go to the store and grab one? They focused on the product instead of the needs of their users and went bankrupt, while Netflix became the video streaming giant it is today.

Let’s stay in the past for a bit longer. In 2007, the phone company BlackBerry was at its peak. Stocks were through the roof, and the company executives were blissfully unaware of what was about to go down. In the same year, Apple released the first iPhone. BlackBerry’s logic was that they would continue making phones for business – and that Apple would focus on the general phone market without much impact. It’s now 2018 and Apple is absolutely dominating the smartphone market, while BlackBerry is virtually non-existent. They failed to realize that their clients need a device for all-around use instead of a dedicated phone just for work.

Just because you have one of the biggest and most powerful companies in the world, it doesn’t mean that you cannot fail. In 2014, Google launched Google Glass, a pair of sophisticated eyeglasses that would serve as a heads up display. It would show information about objects and people around you. Sounds pretty futuristic and extremely interesting – it has to be a hit… Right?

Not really, as it turns out. Four years later and there’s not much talk about Google Glass. The company spent so much time researching and refining that they forgot one thing – no one actually wants a wearable device that gives information about people and objects around you. Google Glass ended up failing spectacularly.

How do I prevent marketing myopia?

The cause of the illness is well known – getting wrapped up in thinking so much about your product and forgetting about your customers. Fortunately, there are lots of strategies and resources to make you regain focus and get your business back on track. Here are some of the most useful ones.

Make use of buyer personas

It should be pretty straightforward – just put yourself in the shoes of your customer and voila – case closed. You know exactly what your customers want and how to cater to their needs. However, it’s not that simple. Depending on your industry and client base, you could have thousands of clients and getting to know each of them personally would be impractical, to say the least.

Instead, you should create a pattern called a buyer persona. Simply put, this is the profile of your ideal customer, with a set of general characteristics. For example, if you design real estate websites, your ideal buyer persona would be a small-business realtor with a low-quality website, established presence on major real estate listing sites, without knowledge or time to make their own website.

This set of guidelines from HubSpot will get you on the right track to establishing buyer personas. Make no mistake – it’s multiple personas, and the number will depend on your industry, niche and the products/services you offer.

buyer persona as a cure for marketing myopia

 Example of a buyer persona. Source –

 Why are buyer personas so useful? It’s pretty simple – you can safely predict customer needs and behavior and tailor your marketing strategies to those most likely to buy from you. You won’t have to worry about content either, as you will know exactly what type of content your ideal market will want to read and share.

In addition to buyer personas, you can also create exclusionary personas – representations of those clients whose business you do not want for certain reasons. Perhaps they’re too expensive to acquire, your product is not advanced enough for them, or they’re likely to create trouble along the line.

Research your market

You can’t get what you don’t ask for. Your customers are right there in front of you, who should know better about improving your product than the people actually using it? In order to truly know where you are headed, interview and poll your clients to find out what to improve and how.

The advantages to asking customers for feedback are twofold. First, you will get actionable insights into what’s working and what needs your attention. Second, your customers will see that you care for their needs and that you put them first.

Market research can be exhausting in terms of time and resources, but it is a valuable investment. You can make the process easy by implement questionnaires in newsletters, blog posts, social media posts and any place your customers are likely to interact with you.

Provide value through inbound marketing

If you haven’t introduced yourself to the concept of inbound marketing yet – you’re seriously missing out. Instead of the marketing methodologies of the old days, inbound focuses on attracting customers by providing relevant and helpful content.

Companies that publish content 11 and more times per month get 4.5 times more leads than companies that blog 0-4 times per month. Content is the driving force when it comes to getting more site visitors, more leads and ultimately, more business. Most importantly. It provides value beyond what you’re trying to sell.

Why is content so successful as a marketing strategy? Because it engages, educates and compels. For example, instead of being another marketing software, Campaign Monitor has a great blog with a range of articles. These research-driven, actionable pieces of information educate their existing and potential clients about great email marketing practices. Moreover, great quality content helps you establish yourself as an expert in your industry and niche.

At LeadQuizzes, we have a platform where you can easily provide value to your potential clients. Quizzes are a great way to not only capture, but also educate your leads. For example, a quiz like one by Jon Benson.

thyroid quiz by jon benson as an example of providing value

In his quiz, he let the takers found out whether their diet may be causing issues with their thyroid. Once they complete the quiz, the leads are given a page where they can buy a supplement product. 

quiz results - thyroird quiz by jon benson, cure for marketing myopia

However, that’s not everything – once you finish the quiz, you get to watch a video about the biggest risks for the health of your thyroid. Instead of just pitching his product, Jon Benson educated his leads and gave them valuable information, for free.

Don’t stop evolving

One of the main reasons that big companies like Blockbuster and Netflix failed is because they were stubbornly convinced that their existing product and business model are good enough and don’t need any changes. Just because a certain marketing tactic has worked beautifully in the past, it doesn’t mean it will continue to work in the future. Moreover, something that works for another business in another niche won’t necessarily work for you.

Digital marketing is the new battlefront for winning over new clients and it is constantly evolving. Google is changing its search algorithm patterns constantly. Search engines play a huge role in your marketing success, and you need to track your keywords and the way you run your paid ads. Email marketing is as important as ever, and maintaining and segmenting your mailing lists is a strategy that shouldn’t be neglected.

You’re not the only one who’s wary of changes. There are hundreds of thousands of marketing experts who dedicate their time tracking marketing trends and changes. Tap into this precious resource and learn what experts have to say about future industry trends. While forecasted data won’t necessarily give 100% accuracy, you can rely on industry experts and learn from others’ mistakes.


Even though Theodore Levitt’s paper is now almost 60 years old, the lessons it teaches hold value in today’s world of marketing. With the rapid pace of new technologies and the rate at which companies appear and disappear, it is more important than ever to listen to your clients and their needs. After all, myopia is perfectly treatable.

If you’re looking for a great way to provide value and get to know your customers better, quizzes are an excellent tool. What’s more, you can try them out completely free!

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