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Marketing review: The importance of an outsider’s perspective to overcome the internal bias

Dog outside window looking at a cat

When it comes to a marketing review, who knows your business better than you? “No-one” is the likely answer.  So why do some businesses opt to bring in external consultants to advise on areas such as marketing?  Surely the knowledge to all of the answers is already within the business?

This is absolutely correct, when an external marketing consultant comes into a business they are not bringing along with them ready-made solutions.  The advice and strategy presented is based upon the answers that the business provides.  The problem is that the business owner is an expert in their own field, but not an expert in marketing.  Ultimately, this means although they do have all the answers, they don’t necessarily know what the questions are!

But why is this any different to recruiting a marketing director into the business, to plug this knowledge gap and provide marketing direction to the business?  The answer to this lies within the concept of internal bias.

Internal bias explained

One of the most difficult things to do as a business owner is to view the business from an external perspective – like an outsider looking in.  So much effort and emotional input has gone into getting the business where it is today, it is virtually impossible to see the business through a customer’s eyes.

So what happens is that whenever decisions are made on behalf of the business, they are done so with an internal bias filter.  You see the impact various decisions can have on different areas of your business from time efficiency, staff resource, profitability and ease of implementation, and naturally this influences your actions.

Too often throughout my career I have seen business owners make decisions based on what would make their life easier, as opposed to what makes the customer life better.  The trouble is that doesn’t take long for internal staff to also apply that same internal bias filter, after all it is subconsciously drummed into them by the actions and decision of their boss, without even realising it.

Why the external perspective is so important

Where an external consultant has an advantage is that the don’t arrive at the business with any political agenda, they are not looking to please.  They don’t have an historical baggage which could influence decisions or actions.  They can look at the reality of the situation and impartially recommend the best course of action for the business.

It is also much easier for an external consultant to challenge the thinking of the business.  Typically a business only has limited experience of what has happened from that business’s perspective.  An external person can draw upon a much wider range of situations and experiences across a range of different industries.

Have you had a problem/issue and discussed it with someone who says something really simple and obvious which completely reframes everything?  It is not always easy to see what is right in front of you when you are in the thick of things.

How to effectively review your marketing

To get a completely impartial, an unbiased customer-centric view of your company’s marketing activities and opportunities it pays to bring in an external consultant.  They can quickly filter out the noise of what isn’t important to focus your efforts on the things that are.  They can provide absolute clarity on how best to grow your business and delivering a greater level of return on investment from your marketing investment. Even if you have a marketing manager or director in situ, an external perspective will add value – even if it merely sense checks that you are already doing the right things.

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Ian is the founder of Opportunity Marketing marketing, with over 18 years of experience in successfully setting up marketing departments, creating marketing strategies and implementing these strategies across a wide number of SME companies in both the B2B and B2C sectors through a variety of channels.
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