Getting an outside perspective on your marketing strategy could differentiate success and failure.
Think back to when you needed help with your career journey or other life decisions. Chances are, you turned to family and friends for advice.
When planning a trip, you go online and look for hotel reviews before booking a room. Likewise, you will probably read customer reviews when shopping for smartphones, blenders, laptops, or other goods.
As an entrepreneur, you may use a similar approach with your marketing efforts. Mentors, consultants, and agencies can provide invaluable feedback and give you a fresh perspective. Plus, they can see things from a customer’s perspective and identify areas of improvement.
This approach is called “outside-in thinking,” as the book Strategy from the Outside-In: Profiting from Customer Value first described it in 2010.
Professor Emeritus George Day, one of its authors and the founder of the Mack Institute for Innovation Management at the Wharton School, explains that everyone in a company should try to see things through the customer’s eyes rather than rely solely on internal resources. Today, organizations leverage this concept by seeking out alternative viewpoints.
Let’s see how an outside perspective can improve your marketing efforts and lead to better decision-making.
What Is Outside-In Thinking?
Marketing professor George Day states that outside-in thinking allows businesses to deliver superior customer value and remain competitive. But what does this approach involve?
Most organizations with an inside-out perspective leverage their internal capabilities and resources. Outside-in thinking, on the other hand, involves a customer-centric approach. The starting point is the target audience.
Companies that embrace outside-in thinking engage in constant dialogue with their customers make data-driven decisions, learn from their competitors, and seek new ways to solve problems. They also turn to mentors, consultants, and other third parties for insight, which allows them to see things from a different perspective.
This approach is all about looking at your business from an outsider’s point of view. As Inc. notes, outside-in thinking can lead to faster innovation, deeper insights, and new experiences that drive business growth.
The Power of External Perspectives
An outside-in strategy incorporating external perspectives may lower costs, better marketing outcomes, and improve efficiency. At the same time, it eliminates bias and can reveal new opportunities for change.
Let’s say you’re working on a marketing campaign for a new product or service. You schedule a meeting with your team to ask for input and decide on the next steps.
While there is nothing wrong with this approach, you need to consider the following aspects:
- Your team members may be too focused on the challenges affecting their departments and miss the big picture
- Most people, including your employees, have a hard time leaving their comfort zone
- Your marketing team may not have as much experience as someone who worked with dozens or hundreds of companies
- You might end up dealing with confirmation bias
Most decision-makers focus on specific details of their projects, notes Gartner. As a result, they miss the big picture and believe their projects are special. They may favor information that confirms their beliefs or ideas, a phenomenon known as confirmation bias.
These factors can limit your ability to think outside the box and find solutions. On the other hand, an outsider’s perspective is not subject to internal preferences and biases. Plus, external consultants and mentors are better able to see the big picture and bring a fresh perspective to your projects.
Like it or not, you can’t read the label from inside the jar—and that’s why it pays off to seek out guidance when you feel stuck. Albert Einstein once said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”
Are you interested to find out more?
Focus on What Matters
Something that seems as intuitive as measuring productivity across teams is not always obvious to people working on the team itself. It’s easy to miss the big picture when you are neck-deep in your business or projects. Plus, you may focus on short-term gains instead of seeking lasting improvement.
Inc. points out that it often takes someone with a different perspective to identify opportunities. A consultant or mentor can tackle one problem at a time and suggests areas of focus. Moreover, they can uncover the issues that affect your organization and seek new, creative ways to address them.
For example, marketing campaigns may fail due to a lack of measurable objectives. Sometimes, leaders have too many objectives and not enough money or resources. As a result, they focus their efforts in the wrong direction and fail to allocate resources efficiently.
An outside-in strategy can help uncover these problems and identify new opportunities. But, at the same time, it provides access to a level of expertise you don’t have in-house.
Leverage Cross-Industry Expertise
Business mentors and consultants come from all walks of life and have cross-industry experience. Some work with companies across various sectors, from healthcare to manufacturing, while others specialize in particular areas. This cross-training allows them to gain insight into different industries and determine what works and what doesn’t.
Your marketing team may not have as much experience as someone who works with multiple clients in various industries.
Even if they have enough experience, they may not have access to the same resources as a consultant or external agency. Therefore, their view is limited.
When you reach out to a consultant, you’re placing your work in the hands of an expert whose job is to help companies succeed. These professionals think differently than you and your team and can pull from various experiences to boost your marketing efforts.
Generate New Insights and Drive Innovation
Sometimes, seeing what other people have done can spark new ideas or fresh insights.
For example, looking at a gallery of website designs for inspiration encourages out-of-the-box thinking. The same goes for your marketing campaigns and other business operations.
An outsider’s perspective might be precisely what your team needs to get out of a rut and generate new insights. For instance, Procter & Gamble’s Connect + Develop campaign leverages outside talent to find opportunities and solutions. The company encourages consumers and businesses to develop ideas that address the unmet needs of its customers or enable the development of better products.
A 2017 PwC survey conducted on 1,200 business executives found only one-quarter of companies saw themselves as leaders in innovation. The truth is many companies still use legacy systems or rely on traditional marketing strategies, which keeps them from reaching their full potential.
An external agency or consultant can assess your existing technology and recommend marketing tools that drive better results. What’s more, they will help you optimize resources and cut costs to invest more time and money in new product development.
Reduce Marketing Costs and Improve Internal Efficiency
The average marketing budget accounts for nearly 12% of a company’s overall budget and 10.4% of its revenue, according to the 2022 CMO Survey. Most organizations allocate about 57% of their marketing budget to copywriting, online advertising, and other digital marketing activities.
Every dollar matters. Especially for startups and small businesses. Even a small mistake can throw your budget out of balance and affect your company’s bottom line.
On the other hand, large organizations can afford to experiment with new ideas—despite the risks involved.
Given these aspects, it makes sense to ask for expert advice before trying new things. A consultant or mentor can help your small business improve its internal processes, which may result in lower costs.
For example, some business functions, like handling accounts payable and receivables, seem “standard” across all companies, but having an outside perspective can uncover ways to improve, streamline, and cut costs. As a result, you’ll be able to invest more in marketing and other operations, such as research and development.
Since most startups are self-funded, you may be seeking to grow your income.
Get a Fresh Perspective on Your Marketing Strategy
Companies big and small rely on business consultants and outside teams. These experts can bring a fresh perspective and get you out of your comfort zone. Plus, they have the time and resources to dig deeper into your audience and discover new opportunities that you might not have considered.
Having an outside perspective can also help you gain clarity and make better decisions regarding your marketing strategy. You will be better able to tell what works and what can be improved.
As an entrepreneur, you may think that your marketing strategy is fine or that you lack the resources to do more. But that’s not necessarily the case.
A consultant or mentor can help you find new ways to generate income, cut costs, and improve internal efficiency. They also have clients from different industries and sectors and can use their expertise to set your business on the path to success.
So, are you ready to take this step? If not, what’s keeping you from doing it? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.