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Perspective: Your greatest weapon

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A different perspective of the Space Needle

Looking at thing differently is important. The above picture is of the Space Needle. It’s from a different perspective. The pictures we are used to seeing show it as part of the Seattle skyline but this was my view standing under it. It’s still the Space Needle, it’s just not the way we are used to seeing it.

Most organizations have best practices to help us do the right things right. Once we have them it’s easy to rely on them.  We are encouraged to rely on them but something that was a best practice today may not be a year from now.

The problem is that things change even if our perspective doesn’t. That’s a frightening thing. Perspective impacts the way we work, the way we live our lives and it has challenged the very values that many of us hold dear. Change is hard because it involves seeing and experiencing the world in a different way than we have in the past. 

This article is on perspective or a viewpoint if you will. I have tried to write this as marketing communication article but it’s a concept that applies to more than just marketing communication. Perspective impacts everything we do. So as your reading this, know that it can apply to your marketing communication efforts but it applies to more than that.

Much of what you are going to read was written before I even wrote this introduction which is kind of why I decided that this wasn’t a straight-ahead marketing communication post (I still mention it…after all this is a marketing communication blog). That’s ok, the next post is going to be back to the nuts and bolts of marketing communication. Today I’m going to talk about perspective.

Things aren’t always as they seem

Perspective is the way we look at things. It could be anything. Marketing communication, parenting, coaching, management, and much more. Our perspective impacts the way we act. For instance, I’m a big believer in measuring results so whatever I do I’m always thinking, “How will I measure this?” Let’s look at a different example.

This past weekend I surveyed my little garden which is made up of tomatoes and more tomatoes. One of the tomatoes is a grape tomato plant which produces like crazy during the summer but it’s fall now so it has slowed down. It’s not unusual to pick about 40-50 tomatoes a week when the plant is at its peak but I hadn’t picked anything in a couple weeks. I could only see about 8-10 tomatoes on that were ready and I went ahead and picked them but it didn’t stop there.  As I kept going through, looking at the plant from different angles and finding more tomatoes that were ready. Fifteen minutes later I had picked over 50 tomatoes, many more than the 8-10 that I saw from my original perspective.

Looking at something from a different viewpoint can show us things we never even realized were there. I used to work at Intel. If you don’t know, it is the largest semiconductor firm world. They frequently talked about thinking outside the box. That sounds good and I got the general concept but how do you think outside the box? So much of our education and work-life teaches us how to think a certain way: inside the box. It wasn’t until I went back to school that I finally got it. Thinking outside the box is really just looking at a situation from a different perspective. 

My last semester in school I took a class called Theory and Philosophy. I didn’t need the class but I wanted to take it (somebody told me they took it and changed their life). I was assured by friends that I would do fine as I had taken multiple classes dealing with theory. That didn’t end up being the case. As I said, I didn’t need the class and there plenty of times that I wondered why I had taken such a hard class my last semester. I told my friends I was struggling and they told me not to worry because it would all come together. They were right. It did. Four months after graduation.

You’re probably thinking I’m going on a tangent (I’m good at going off on tangents) but there is a point to this story. What I learned was perspective drives the way we do things.

Once we’ve created our formula it’s all too easy just to keep doing the same thing.  Before we know it, our marketing communication is stale. It’s just not resonating anymore for our audience but we can avoid this trap by changing our perspective.

Get some Perspective

I’m as guilty of this as anybody. It’s easy to be in a bubble where only your viewpoint reigns supreme but it’s not good for growth. It’s certainly not good for marketing communication efforts.

I once worked at a company who seemed completely removed from reality. When I saw their advertising it would make me shake my head. What the marketing was selling was completely different than what our customers were telling us they were experiencing. While it may have helped with getting new customers, it certainly did nothing to help keep the old ones.

Different viewpoints are essential to help us stay on track. Talk to your customers and your employees. Talk to other people in the same position in different companies. The value you come away with will make it more than worth your time. Chances are they will be looking at things from a completely different perspective than you are.

Maybe not everything will be helpful but it will help you look at things in new and different ways. That’s not a bad thing. It’s a gift. 

One of the smartest things that I’ve done is join a marketing communication group. The diversity of experiences is fantastic and I love the different perspectives that I find there. The same question can be answered with many different solutions. It broadens my own thinking.

When I was at Intel it felt like we were in our own world. There was Intel and there was everything else. We were in our own little bubble.  It was really odd how when something didn’t go as expected the drastic difference between how it was portrayed within the company and how it was portrayed outside it. Were we dealing with reality or were we just live in a dream world of our own making? The easy answer is sometimes yes and sometimes no. The real answer is more complicated but you get the idea.

Apply different perspectives

I should have titled this section “Thinking out of the Box.” This really is what I am talking about. There is nothing wrong with creating a formula and executing it. Formula’s became formulas for a reason. They work…to an extent. As I said at the beginning of the article, things change. And, when things change the formula often stops working and a new perspective is needed.

The more you talk to people, the more viewpoints you will hear that will give you new perspectives. Invariably we all run into a problem that needs to be solved. A different perspective can help us look at the situation in a new way and help us find a solution. This applies not only to our customers but to ourselves as well. After all, we are not only in the business of solving a customer’s problem, we are also in the business of solving our own. 

Finding different perspectives will help you see a bigger picture and find new and improved solutions. Don’t be afraid to reach out and new ways of looking at things. It will not only help your customers, it will help you as well.

Shane Carpenter
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