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March 11, 2019

By: Jason Gitlin, Associate Creative Director, RAPP San Francisco

I’ve always been fascinated by the study of religion — especially the rituals, practices, and beliefs of people and cultures foreign to me.

However, it was studying these characteristics from the believer’s point of view that not only widened my understanding of different peoples and cultures, but also taught me there is truth and value in every person’s thoughts and beliefs. This focus on the believer’s journey was an apt springboard for my marketing career.

The Inside-Out Approach
As I gained experience as a copywriter, I realized effective marketing isn’t just about clever turns of phrase and punchy calls to action — it’s about strategic empathy that seeks to discover the individual truths that motivate customers and prospects. What’s attractive to creatives and clients might be invisible. What strokes a brand’s ego might be irrelevant.

Connecting with prospects’ needs requires what I call an inside-out approach. It allows you to connect more authentically with consumers through more relevant brand experiences.

When you cut back on scattershot “marketing fluff” and focus on what people need the most from your brand, you show them that you’re listening, that you understand where they’re coming from and what they need. You’re not just presenting them with a product offer, but an offer of empathy through authentic experiences that offer true value and, in turn, allow your brand to grow the value of individual prospects and customers.

RAPP’s Core Values
The inside-out mindset guides every project here at RAPP. The focus is always on individual preferences and personality. For instance, the CRM and social work we did for Visa Developer targeted both developers and business decision makers. The work geared toward developers contained coding jokes and sci-fi references, while content for business decision makers focused on the benefits of using the Visa Developer Platform.

We did something similar during our campaign for Autodesk Product Design & Manufacturing Collection. We tapped into the worldview of product design engineers and created content that resonated with their unique experiences. Consequently, the campaign received significant attention on Autodesk’s social feeds.

Adopting an inside-out perspective has been essential to RAPP’s success. This method of studying belief and conviction has informed how we listen to our customers and prospects. It’s helped us understand their behavior, wants, and needs, allowing us to more effectively convert leads to believers.

Characteristics of Inside-Out
Many marketers have made this shift toward an inside-out mindset, but some still view customers and prospects from the outside in as mere “subjects.” They think in terms of products rather than people. By developing an unbiased, clear worldview from the perspective of the believer instead, marketers can incorporate effective sociological principles into their work.

In doing so, marketers should realize the inside-out perspective is grounded in two key elements:

  1. Research: Seeing the world from the inside out isn’t about walking in your customer’s shoes. It relies on research that uncovers actionable data, helping you diagnose your customer’s needs while profiling their preferences.

    This type of research tells you more than just basic demographic information. It tells you their interests and habits. Maybe they like to go antiquing on Sundays or play bocce ball after work with their friends. Those hobbies could be anything. An inside-out perspective, then, challenges you to understand every facet of their personalities.

  2. Adaptability: An inside-out mindset doesn’t just require understanding prospects — it necessitates adapting to those prospects’ unique values. After all, there’s no such thing as one-message-fits-all with the inside-out approach.

    When you know who your customers are on an individual level, you can tailor messaging and experiences to connect with them directly. And just as the work is adaptable to individuals through messaging, the “where” and “when” needs to evolve as preferences change.

    When evaluating work, product features should always be tied to real-world benefits, expressed with empathy and understanding. Benefits — and the language used to talk about them — should vary depending on the profile of the individual you’re talking to. The mix of channels should be determined by research and listening to the audience you’re trying to connect with.


Ultimately, developing an inside-out mentality is essential for marketers in any industry. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling — you’re trying to touch the hearts and reach the minds of your prospects, and that demands understanding their needs and wants. Accomplishing that goal takes your audience further along their journey from prospect to customer, and eventually from customer to advocate.

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