Admit it: You’ve self-diagnosed on WebMD. We all have. You find some mole that looks a little weird or a cough that sounds a little too rattly, and you diagnose yourself with some dread disease. Cancer. Whooping cough. The bubonic plague.

You march into the doctor’s office with your research in hand, complete with what course of treatment she should prescribe. Before you’ve ever talked to the expert, you’ve figured out your problem and your solution.

Any good doctor worth her salt is going to sit you down and talk you out of it. Any good doctor is going to help you realize that your mole is just that, a mole, that your cough is just an edge of a cold or whatever diagnosis is correct or appropriate. Or they’ll find out what the real underlying issue is. Because that’s what doctors do: they get to the real problem under all the symptoms.

In a way, no matter what business you’re in, we’re all doctors. It’s not our job to take our patient or client at their word when they tell us what’s wrong; it’s up to us to look past the flashy symptoms to the root cause.

At Roundpeg, we see this a lot. Folks walk in the door saying they want help with social media. They’ve heard they need to be on social media, so they want to be on social media. But when you sit down and talk to them, what they really need is more leads. What they really need is to mine a new demographic. What they really need is to galvanize their existing base. And depending on what that true need is, social media may or may not be the right path to take.

When it comes time to do your own marketing, sit down and consider what you’re really trying to achieve. Remember, the goal of marketing is not to be good at marketing. All the awards, all the Facebook comments, all the website hits aren’t worth a hill of beans if your business is floundering. Before you embark on any marketing endeavor, ask yourself what problem you’re trying to solve, what need you’re trying to fill, what isn’t working now. Next, make sure your marketing strategy is actually achieving those goals, not just making you feel better in the short term.

photo credit: gb_packards via photo pin cc