Think inside out, not outside in

One of the things that marketers, researchers, and administrators are often encouraged to do is to try to see things from the point of view of the insider, for example the customer, the respondent, or the user.

Last week I came across a really clear example of the difference of between the insider and outsider view, and the consequences of using the wrong view. On this occasion the example came, perhaps surprisingly, from the world of lingerie.

My daughter owns and runs a multi-channel lingerie business and needs to ensure that she addresses search engine optimisation for her website, MishOnline. Whilst we were discussing SEO strategies, she showed me the difference between bras and bra. Evidently, many retailers optimise for the word bras, but optimising for bra attracts many more hits. The Google Trend chart, below, shows these two terms, for the UK, for the 12 months to April 2013, and makes the point very clearly.


The difference is outside-in thinking and inside-out thinking. Retailers sell bras, so they think ‘bras’ when they are looking at the web. However, most shoppers are looking to buy or research a bra. This difference between outside in, and inside out, thinking applies in most business situations, both B2C and B2B – and it is always worth looking for the differences.

Note: Google Trends is a really useful, free service from Google. Every search term used by a Google user is saved, along with the date and location of the search. This information can then be queried to see how searchers for a word, or words, have varied over time. This provides, in many cases, a proxy for general interest in a topic.

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