Ask any bartender and they’ll probably tell you there’s a certain contingent of customers who come in just for the conversation. It’s why Norm went to Cheers. Or why on Star Trek Captain Picard would frequent Ten Forward. Sometimes you just need someone to help you think things through. We do this all the time—step up to the bar, literally or not, seeking advice from a fresh perspective— because we know there’s value in having someone else apply their point of view to our situation.
But when it comes to marketing for manufacturing, companies aren’t always so quick to seek outside help. Maybe that’s because hiring a marketing firm costs more than a couple beers and a few hours. Or maybe it’s because you just don’t think you have the time to deal with it. But, just like in life, the view from the outside is often clearer than from the inside. And if you aren’t considering tapping into some outside marketing perspective, here are some benefits you’re missing out on.
First and foremost, an outside perspective on marketing gives you much-needed objectivity. Internal departments can get bogged down with the closed loop of groupthink or internal politics. Decisions happen at ground level in reaction to internal pressures, rather than in service to an overall strategy. But the right partner, removed from any internal baggage, can help bring things out of the weeds to solve your challenges in the broad context of what you’re trying to achieve as a business.
I don’t necessarily mean experience in your exact field. What I do mean is that an outside firm is able to draw from much broader experience when attacking a problem. Because they’ve worked with a wide range of companies or even industries, they’re not just bringing fresh thinking. They’re bringing highly distilled insights gleaned from areas well outside of your own expertise. It’s a skillset that means they’re naturally thinking about your problem differently, bringing experience in applying critical thinking to solve all sorts of complex problems. It’s the kind of cross-pollination that often produces something new, different, and unexpected.
An outside firm has the benefit of focusing differently from you. Because they don’t need to be the experts in your day-to-day operations, they can spend their energy on getting as good as possible at what they bring to the table—creative problem solving. Most internal marketing teams just don’t have the time or resources to spend on truly developing the creative skills that get nurtured inside a marketing firm.
Outside marketing firms can serve as a bridge between you and your customers. Something we consistently find working with manufacturers is that you’re often not speaking the same language as your customers. Manufacturers often speak in terms of features and specs, rather than addressing the needs of the customer. But an outside marketing partner has to come in and learn from the beginning how to speak about you accurately. That means they’re in a better position from the get-go to translate what you do and why it’s valuable to others who aren’t as intimately familiar with your business as you are.
Finally, an outside perspective allows you to get outside of what’s comfortable. With a fresh perspective, an outside marketing firm is going to be more willing and able to challenge the status quo. They’re already immune to “the way it’s always been.” They’re more willing to be the voice that says, “This is so crazy it just might work.” While internal marketing teams almost always get to a point of choosing the safe route, an outside firm is going to be willing to shake things up, challenge your assumptions, and push against traditions. And that’s often where the best marketing comes from.
As a marketing firm, one of the most valuable things we offer is our perspective. It’s our point of view as outsiders looking into your company, bringing our experience of looking into countless other companies from the outside, too. What we’re best at is not your business—you’re the experts on what you do, which is why working together needs to be such a close partnership. No, what we’re best at is learning about your business and then applying our unique, unencumbered point of view and expertise at marketing to solving your problem. When inside knowledge and outside perspective join forces, it’s a tough combination to beat.
For our part, we’ve gotten really good at getting to know manufacturing businesses and finding key insights to apply to their marketing. Sometimes your coolest differentiators are things you take for granted. And sometimes the things you believe differentiate you aren’t very different from what the competition is saying. But it’s not until you get outside of your own head that those nuances can become apparent.