Marketing Myopia by Theodore Levitt: Review

Marketing Myopia Cover

I just finished reading Marketing Myopia by Theodore Levitt. It was recommended to me by a CMO group on Facebook. It’s a fast and easy read with some quick insight. I’ll share some insights I found below:

Book Cover Marketing Myopia by Theodore Levitt

Synopsis: This book is for marketers and business owners that want to answer the question “What does my company do, and how do I talk about our product/services.” The author suggests that it’s myopic to think that a company only sells X or does Y when you answer the question. Your business should be solving a need in the market, and the products and services are part of solving the need.

My thoughts on Marketing Myopia

I like this book because the concepts are clear and easy to understand, and its examples are real world. Being a little seasoned myself, I’ve seen industries changes and businesses fail because they were myopic, focusing on being better at selling what they made, rather than marketing/demonstrating their solutions to a need in a market, and being in a place to change how they deliver that solution when consumer habits change.

Advocating for a Customer-Oriented Business

Essentially the book advocates for a Customer-Oriented Business, switching the goal of the business from making a profitable product as efficiently as possible to focus on solutions that are in a business’s wheelhouse to solve for customers. It elevates the “what we do” from a product or service to a higher-order solution.

One example is the industry of Hollywood, moving from a “movie producing industry” mindset to the “entertainment industry.” If businesses in Hollywood only made movies, then when television came onto the scene, they would have missed the boat. Even now, we see that people consume entertainment in new ways, with tablets, phones, online services, etc. The Hollywood movie businesses that have pivoted to other entertainment formats have survived.

There is some practical advice in the books and really on major warning, watch for a self declining cycle.

Watch for a self declining cycle

A self Declining cycle is when a business bases its success on building a better widget and assumes:

  1. Growth is assured by population growth.
  2. Thinking there is no competitve substitute
  3. Too much faith in mass production (Decling output cost as output grows)
  4. Preoccupation with products that lends itself to sceintfic experimentaiton and improvements relying on manufacturing cost reduction

The author suggests that these 4 elements can cause a business to be a company without an industry. One example given was the buggy whip manufacturers that supported the horse-drawn carriage industry. Automobiles replaced the horse-drawn carriage, so there was no longer a demand for a buggy whip, no matter how well a company made a buggy whip. I’ll take their example one step further. If the Buggy whip business saw themselves as a transportation accessories business, they may have had a better chance of surviving the industry’s change.

In h the author’s eye, a business should be an organism focused on creating customers, satisfying customers, and creating value for the solutions provided.

In Conclusion

This book is a quick read and well worth a few dollars to pick it up. This is definitely one of the books behind the newer marketing trends of understanding a higher order of what a business does and advocating for a customer-centric business. I strongly suggest you order a copy of Marketing Myopia and keep it on your resource shelf.

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