A bit harsh am I?  Not at all.  I cannot tell you how many business owners I have encountered who have been steered wrong because of their friends.  Asking friends for input to give you direction in your business marketing is similar to using MapQuest to help you reach an obscure destination- you will NEVER get there!

I find there are two major areas where friends, actually marketing frienemies, lead small business owners astray.  If you are a small business owner, I strongly encourage you to avoid the following two scenarios.

  1. Asking your friends for their input on logos, slogans, taglines, etc. There are numerous reasons why this is a horrible idea.  The first of which is that your friends are probably not a part of your target market.  All marketing should reflect the likes and needs of your target market.  If you build your brand around the likes and dislikes of your friends, I hope they are ready to be your number one profit source.  The second reason you don’t want your friends’ opinions is because they like you and are likely to reinforce egocentric marketing.  They will tell you that your business cards are “so you” or that your website really expresses your character.  My question is, who cares if your website expresses your character?  If you want someone else to look at it, it had better express their needs, likes and possibly character.
  2. Asking your friends for their honest opinion on your marketing materials. Your friends will lie to you.  Yes, I said it.  Now, they will not lie to you to be mean.  They will lie to protect your feelings.  Even the most honest person is incapable of being completely objective with their friends.  Strangers are much more honest.  In fact, strangers talking to someone else (versus you directly) about your brand are even more honest.  This is why focus group testing is such a critical component of small business marketing.

At the end of the day, if your friends are not your target market, cannot be objective (and they cannot) and are not marketers, you should not use their input.  My suggestion moving forward, keep your friends as friends and keep them away from your marketing.