Every single person looks at life through a lens. The way you see the world is colored by who you are, your experiences, your temperament and even your mood.

We are constantly reminded of this fact at WrightIMC. We have several clients whose audience does not look through the same lens as most of us. Whether it be the winery that is targeting the extremely wealthy or the payday loan store targeting, well, people who frequent payday loan stores, WrightIMC employees frequently are asked to walk in other people’s shoes.

It’s become a tired cliche, to walk in someone else’s shoes. We tell our kids this saying when we feel they are being spoiled. We tell it to ourselves when we are having a bad day. And we wish others would do it when they act selfishly toward us. But as marketers, walking in someone else’s shoes involves more than just fancy footwork. It requires changing our frame of vision, our frame of mind and in many cases, our frame of reference. We have to look at the world through someone else’s lenses, be they rose-colored or otherwise.

In the world of advertising I am constantly astounded by how the approaches differ based upon the lenses we use. For example, it’s no secret that many at WrightIMC see the world through SEO-colored lenses by default. We tend to approach problems with the search engine results page in mind, unless we make a conscious effort do otherwise. In a world viewed through an SEO lens, every opportunity becomes a link. It’s not about how many views something received, or how many followers you have. The question is – did it get a link? How many links did it get? Where the links that we got any good? Did that story affect the Google or Bing ranking of a particular keyword?

On the other hand, I also come from a traditional PR and journalism background. Many times my natural lens is ink-covered – wondering how well our latest promotion will play in the lurid press. Even though the vaunted third estate isn’t what is used to be, I still have a futile dream of seeing my likeness drawn in an ink caricature on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. I count one of my proudest professional moments as the day I had four separate clients on the cover of the WSJ. That day was awesome – but as I look at it through my SEO lens, I wonder how much better it would have been if all four stories had links back to the clients (it was before links were really used). Man, those would have been good links.

We frequently work with marketers who see things through technology lenses, paid-advertising lenses, direct-marketer lenses, e-mail-marketer lenses, human-resource lenses, legal lenses – well, you get the picture. The number of lenses out there is enough to make an opthamologist blush. But all of us have the ability to look through other lenses if we consciously make the effort. Abraham Maslow, one of my personal heroes, said “To someone with a hammer, every problem becomes a nail.” That’s what happens when you only look through your personal lens.

Anyone who has ever gotten eyeglasses knows how difficult it can be to pick a lens. We’ve all been through the, “Does this one look clearer or this one? A or B? This one or this one?” – ad nauseum. And after a while, all the lenses can start to look the same – but if you get the wrong one, the results can be headaches and blurred vision.

These are the same problems we see with marketers who approach their prospects viewed through the wrong lens. Headaches and blurred vision. Headaches, because the implementation can cause pains that make a migraine seem weak. Blurred vision, because if you aren’t implementing your marketing programs correctly, your vision for future efforts will be blurred. The entire premise behind our tagline “Results. Give. Knowledge.” wouldn’t work. Your results would not give you the knowledge you need to move forward and be successful. In fact, you might find yourself wandering blindly through false conclusions made from the results of a poorly-executed campaign.

So, how do you know what lens you need to look through when starting a marketing program? One of my favorite techniques is starting from the end. What is the desired end result of what I’m trying to do? And in choosing your lens type, you need to get granular. We’re talking about the lens that colors your tactics, not your overall strategy. Your overall strategy needs to be able to withstand the scrutiny of multiple lenses.

For example – if it’s name recognition you want, viewing the world through an SEO lens may not be the best fit. Natural search can provide brand lift. That’s been proven in many studies. Natural search can do an awesome job of putting your name in front of prospects and solidifying perceptions of market leaders. In other words, if your prospects are searching for specific products using multiple queries, and your name keeps showing up, you can be perceived as a leader in your industry – even if you aren’t. But search by itself rarely achieves broad-based name recognition. Social Media, PR and paid advertising are the lenses that you would most likely want to look through when planning a campaign where the end goal is a broader brand footprint.

But, what if you want to sell something quickly? Natural and paid search lenses work better than most anything else. They get to the prospects in their times of need.

The question is then: What if I want to sell items and get name recognition? Well, that’s why you need multiple campaigns with separate goals. A campaign that tries to do all things almost always fails. If you try to look through all the lenses at once, there is no way you can see where to go.

This may seem like I’m advocating that you look to specialists for your strategy. Not exactly. I’m recommending that you understand the proper way to look at each campaign. We all tend to move toward our strengths and see things in a way that complements our views of the world. As marketers, however, we must move beyond our own biases and experiences and look through the lens that amplify the most appropriate plan of action. And, it’s not simple. Recognizing your own biases is one of the hardest things anyone can do – in life or in marketing. By making an attempt – or better yet asking for help – to see through different lenses, you will see the results of your campaigns improve dramatically.

If you need some help seeing through foggy lenses, give WrightIMC a call. We’ve got a whole marketing optometrist’s shop over here, even if the biggest lens tend to be shaded with algorithms and keywords.