Digital Marketing Strategy Involves Knowing When to Seek an Outside Perspective

In deciding how to tackle a marketing problem, you should consider whether insider expertise, an outside perspective, or a combination of the two will lead to the best possible outcome.

digital marketing

Tackling digital marketing tasks — as with just about any other business task — can lead you to solutions under your own roof or to bringing in outside help.

Primary motivators in that decision-making process are likely to be cost, of course, or expertise. Do you have someone with the necessary skills and enough bandwidth to take on the project?

There should be another consideration, as well: would an outside perspective provide value that an in-house resource can’t?

The situations below provide some possible paths with which you might approach your own marketing conundrums, even if they aren’t an exact match for these examples.

Website Architecture and Navigation

For all but the most complex of websites, structure and navigation look deceptively simple. (Most sites with overly complex navigation could probably be better organized.)

And of course, most of us spend a fair amount of time on the web, so we feel we can tell a good experience from a bad one.

But just because your team members have their opinions doesn’t mean they can translate them into a useful set of recommendations that fit your website’s needs. That’s where applicable experience becomes valuable, though that experience doesn’t necessarily require an outside perspective.

The real value an outside perspective provides is an ability to more easily view your message and content in the same way your target audience will. An outside expert is not saddled with the deeply ingrained knowledge that any well-versed marketing employee will have.

An outside perspective here can mean the difference between a site that is set up to mimic your firm’s org chart or business units, and a site that is organized to appeal to each of your most important audience segments and gather the information they’re likely to be most interested in.

Content Strategy and Content Development

But an outside perspective doesn’t always win the day. For example, when it comes to content development, we encourage our clients to devote skills and resources needed to generate content themselves, in-house. Nobody will ever know your business as well as your own team does, though a long-term “permalancer” can come very close. In that case, though, they’re not really providing an outside perspective. Quite the opposite; they are outsiders who are essentially assimilating your culture.

There are exceptions, as with problem areas that seem like they should be producing a positive marketing ROI but are not. An outside perspective can be all that’s needed to make the adjustment that get the results rolling in.

Same Old Wine in a Brand New Jar

(Bonus points if you can name the song from which that line comes. Hint: It’s by The Who, but it’s not one of their big hits.)

Finally, there are instances where the combination of an outside perspective and inside knowledge are an unbeatable combination. We see this during the discovery process we run before website design or coding get underway.

As we seek out input from a wide range of stakeholders, we get an incredible range of perspectives, from the marketing team, as you’d expect, but also from top-level executives, as well as entry-level customer-facing employees.

An outside perspective alone wouldn’t provide any great value, but when combined with great insights from the inside team, the outcomes are incredibly powerful. The outside expert may not add any new thinking; they simply help the internal team view the insights they themselves have from another angle.

These three paths — inside knowledge only, outside perspective, and the two working together — should all be considered as you address your everyday marketing tasks, as well as the thorny issues we all face from time to time. Putting the right kind of team together is an important part of crafting the best solution.

Author: Andrew Schulkind

Since 1996, Andrew Schulkind has asked clients one simple question: what does digital marketing success look like, and how can marketing progress be measured?

A veteran content marketer, web developer, and digital strategist, Andrew founded Andigo New Media to help firms encourage audience engagement through solid information architecture, a great user experience, and compelling content. A dash of common sense doesn’t hurt, either.

His work touches social media, search-engine optimization, and email marketing, among other components, and he has presented at Social Media Week NY and WordCampNYC, among other events. His writing appears in various online and print publications. 

Andrew graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from Bucknell University. He engages in a range of community volunteer work and is an avid fly fisherman and cyclist. He also loves collecting meaningless trivia. (Did you know the Lone Ranger made his mask from the cloth of his brother's vest after his brother was killed by "the bad guys?")

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