There’s been a lot written about the importance (or the danger) of eating your own dog food in the tech world. “Dogfooding” is when everyone involved in building a product uses that product themselves. It’s like the product team (developers, designers) behind Wikipedia using the wiki tool itself to communicate with each other and to manage projects.
But it can apply to any area — say, marketing automation software. A company making a product like this should be using it themselves, right? Not if you’re not the right customer (or in the right phase of development) for it, some say. Another hesitation you might have is the amount of time you might waste by using a product or method that is half-baked, that is, experimenting on yourself. One of the big learnings from Lean Startup is that you are NOT your own customer, and you have to “get out of the building” to really get accurate learnings from your testing. Don’t be the National Institute of Mental Health employee who straps those electrodes on themselves!
So when IS it appropriate, as a services provider, to eat your own dog food?
The answer is: When you are the right customer for it, AND when you need to use yourself as a case study, as a demonstration for your skills. If you’re a PR agency, you need to do at least some baseline PR for your own brand. If you’re a creative firm, make sure your website is aesthetically pleasing and that you have some nice assets (design, copy) that makes a great first visual impression.
One thing to be careful of, of course, is not to parody yourself. That is, eating your own dog food to the extent of becoming a potential object of ridicule, like these.