Beware of Lake Wobegon

EgoIf you were to take a free association test, more than likely you would equate the word “marketing” with selling, advertising, and the pushing of products onto your potential customers.

Better marketing doesn’t simply mean “Getting our name out” with newspaper, radio, or TV ads.  Nor is it a matter of direct mail or email campaigns, point and click advertising, social media exposure, or the best dad-gum blog on the net.

The first principle of marketing your small service business is what Guy Kawasaki calls the first principal of computer marketing:  Get Better Reality.

 The First Step in  marketing your service is “Your Service.”


 Beware of the Lake Wobegon Effect:  Overestimating Yourself

(pronounced Woe-be-gone)

Psychologists have proven that we don’t have a very accurate view of ourselves, i.e., we all think we are much better than we really are.  Most men think they are good-looking.  Most college professors think they are better than their colleagues.  Most small business owners think theirs is the best around.   Psychologists call this the Lake Wobegon effect, referring to Garrison Keilor’s famous radio show sign-off from his fictional home town, Lake Wobegon:  “where the women are strong, the men are good-looking, and all of the children are above average.”

Here are a couple of examples where thinking “you’re the best” may be delusional.  Why is it that some gas stations feel like they have to blast their customers with punk rock music at 6am?  Many restaurants do the same thing when most of their customers my be older patrons.  Why is it that many email subscription companies think it is a good idea to blast a person with advertising when they want to cancel a subscription?  Why do managers  at many fast food chains think it is acceptable to staff drive-thru windows with folks who can barely speak English, and who always get your order wrong?  Why do small pizza places think it is acceptable to customers to be greeted by jerks when entering the establishments?

The moral of the story:  don’t think your service business is above average.

Assume your service is bad.  It can’t hurt, and it will force you to improve.

Note:  this article is based on  Harry Beckwith’s book, “Selling the Invisible:  A Field Guide to Modern Marketing.”  I highly recommend it.

Selling the Invisible

About clayandali
Trained as a research chemist, but have been involved with Entrepreneurship for over 30 years. I have been involved in photography for 41 years. Ali is a graduate of the Ohio Institute of Photography in Dayton, OH. She loves both portrait and landscape work.

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