It is far too easy to fall in love with something you are close to. That’s often the explanation for marketing initiatives that fall flat. Too many ideas, product launches and even ad campaigns have died a painful death because of the inability of the creators to step back and view them critically. 

Authors Chip and Dan Heath, masters of insight into the workings of the business mind, call this phenomenon the “spotlight effect:” focusing so quickly and definitively on the idea you have coalesced around that you fail to see other directions that may be far better.

It’s not that hard to avoid the spotlight effect, but it does require a shift in perspective. You have to turn the lens from your perspective as a marketer to the times you are a consumer. Think about how many things you see every day that make you wonder, “What were they thinking?” That’s the last thing you want someone to say about you. So apply your own consumer behavior to your marketing decisions. Step back and look at yourself through the lens of “Consumer You.” Here’s how to start.

Make it fast.  Let’s face it, the average consumer has the attention span of a gnat on Red Bull. They really don’t care about the detailed workings of your product; you either have them or don’t in 10 seconds. Can you articulate your product and its core benefit in that amount of time? Would it catch “Consumer You’s” attention if you saw it on TV playing in the background while you were also surfing the web and tweeting from your iPad? If not, you need to re-think things.

Make it simple. It never ceases to amaze me how frequently marketers design products because they’ve “always done it that way.” The results are never pretty. We recently got proposals for some IT services and most of what we got back was beyond comprehension--including one quote with a whole bunch of line items that made no sense coupled with a discount of around 70 percent on only certain elements. Instead of making things make sense, they chose to give me something that I could never possibly understand.  Next… 

Make it BS-free. We all have that internal BS meter that rings loudly when we hear unsubstantiated claims and promises that are too good to be true. The term “where’s the beef” entered the cultural lexicon because it was grounded in truth.  Make sure you have credible, factual claims that would convince you--“Consumer You"--that the things you are promising are as good as you claim.

Know what you’re up against.  Go to your website. Now open three more: your two biggest competitors and the hottest smaller company in your space. Presented with nothing but the facts on your screen, would you choose your own product? Is it competitively priced? Does it deliver superior benefits that “Consumer You” can relate to? Is this a company “Consumer-You” would REALLY rather do business with? Consumers look at more than one choice, so you should too. If the answer to these questions is no, re-think more than just your site.

Do your homework. I was in the Apple Store the other day looking at covers for my new iPad mini. While viewing options on the shelf, I started searching for reviews on each model. I’m not the only one. A recent study by Weber Shandwick found an astounding 65 percent of potential consumer electronics purchasers are inspired by a consumer review to select a brand that wasn't in their original consideration set.  So, do your homework. Look at others’ comments as though you’re a potential customer. Would you buy once you’ve read them?