Learn to Gain a New Perspective

During my career, a lot of my senior marketing colleagues would come to me and complain about some of their newest staff members. They were frustrated because these new marketers just couldn’t seem to get the right perspective of the market and translate that back to their day-to-day actions.

It’s a very common problem, especially for less experienced marketers, but it can affect just about anyone. Like everything else we’ve discussed in this course, it’s a big challenge because you’ll miss critical insights if you don’t have this skill.

I’ve put a name to this skill. I call it zooming out and zooming in. Zooming out is when you change your perspective to see the big picture, the whole market from a very wide angle. Zooming in is just the opposite. You zoom in to a new perspective, right on the ground so to speak, very close to the customer and the buying journey.

Think of it like the lens on a camera. The photographer sees a completely different view of the subject when the lens is changed by zooming closer in or by zooming far away. Changing the view triggers new insights on how best to take that shot. You can do the exact same thing when trying to understand a market.

Here’s an example. Imagine you work for a pharmaceutical company, and you want to introduce a drug that treats diabetes into the Chinese market. China is a very big country with around 1.4 billion people, almost 20% of the world’s population. Should be a great market, right? So where do you start? How do you get your drug from the plant in the US to the people with diabetes in China? From this perspective, it’s overwhelming.

Let’s change our perspective and see if it helps. Let’s zoom down to just one city in China, like Shanghai. It’s a big, modern city with about 14 million people. For me, that’s still too big. Let’s zoom down again to a very small town in the middle of China with no more than 50,000 people. In fact, let’s zoom into just one neighborhood. In that neighborhood, let’s find one home with one person with diabetes, let’s say a man in his 50’s. Got it?

Now let’s ask ourselves the same question: how do we get one dose of our diabetes drug from the plant in the US into this man’s body? Here’s why this helps. If you can’t figure out all the things that have to happen to get the product to just this one customer, it’s hopeless to consider how you would do it for all of China. But if you do figure it out, you created a model that can be scaled up to other customers.

With this model in mind, we’re going to zoom out, and imagine other homes in this neighborhood, then zoom out to other neighborhoods, then to other towns around the region, and so on. Before long, you’re back at the level of the entire country to see the big picture. With each change in perspective, I get the insights I need to create a successful marketing campaign.

So look at your markets and train your eye to see new perspectives. Zoom in and zoom out to find new ways to grow.