To judge from all the poorly positioned marketing in the life sciences, it must be very hard to diagnose your own marketing ills. Otherwise firms would fix what is so obviously wrong.

It is hard to diagnose yourself. It can be dangerous too. In fact, they won’t let doctors do it, because the stakes can be so high – life and death. The impacts of marketing are serious too: success or failure of the business.

Why is it so hard to diagnose your own ills? There are two main reasons.

First, it is hard to see your own situation clearly from your audience’s viewpoint. But isn’t this exactly what’s needed? Marketing doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it exists solely to engage the audience. And seeing your situation the way the audience does means being able to put aside all the inside knowledge you have that makes you such an expert. Approaching the subject from your audience’s viewpoint means taking on the view of the non-expert – a novice, if you will.

When you’re a novice, you can figure out what you don’t know. When you’re an expert, it is hard to unlearn what you worked so hard to learn. It is as hard to think like a novice once you are an expert as it is to be an expert in the first place. So it is hard to put yourself in the audience’s shoes, particularly those who just may not care very much about what you have to say!

Second, it is difficult to diagnose your ills clearly without simultaneously thinking of the pain of implementing the solution. And it is harder still to separate the important from the urgent and develop a prescriptive strategy that will address the situation in a timely and efficient manner. But this is exactly what is needed.

Diagnosis is the one step that is obviously difficult to get right. Otherwise there would be much more effective marketing in the life sciences.