Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to ask for help

Asking for help: in today's "I can do it myself" world, we often have a hard time admitting that we can't do it all. It makes us feel less competent, less intelligent and less useful. However, I argue that asking for help not only makes us the opposite of those three, but it actually allows us to increase our marketability, customer service skills, and knowledge base.

As the saying goes: "The older I get, the more I realize how little I know." In this information-driven age, have we somehow forgotten this? Or, have we determined that - with so much information available at the touch of a button - we don't need anyone's help except our own? Have we become so independent that we're affecting not only our relationships, but also our businesses?

Marketing materials are a great example of the do-it-yourself mentality that can ruin a business. Today, we have online printing companies that can help you create a (somewhat customized logo), collateral materials, and business cards. Web services make it possible for you to register a domain name, upload your logo and photos onto template (again, somewhat customizable) pages, and immediately have a web presence. Blogs and social media sites allow you to deliver information to your potential clients, colleagues and business associates. You can do it all! Or can you?

I know that I can't, and I'm quite savvy about most of that stuff. My website, which I've attempted to create myself, is atrocious. Yes, I admit it! I don't like it and I feel that it conveys the wrong image about my company. My logo: well, it's allright, but a professional would have done a better job, and I'll most likely change it in the future. My collateral materials: they're acceptable for now, but they have the potential to be so much more AND by being so much more, help me market my brand in a more efficient and visually-pleasing manner. Finally, the content on all of these is average, since I've devoted so much more time on working on others' communication materials than on my own; I'm my worst client! So, what have I learned from this experience? I need others...very, very much.

Fortunately, I am now partnering with a terrific branding expert and designer who is revamping my site (look for an upcoming blog about my own "branding consultation session" -- it was an eye-opener!). I have relationships with those in the printing business who will develop brochures and other collateral materials that I find worthy of my company and my image. And, I can hire a social media expert to keep me current regarding Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, various other sites, and SEO optimization. With all these people working with me to fulfill my business branding goals, my company will certainly have a more professional, polished look and will, undoubtedly, garner more customer and media attention.

Finally, I have the world's best business consultant who gives me sage advice, snaps me into reality regarding market potential, pricing, and customer relations, and assists me with all financial matters. This, especially, is something that I could not do myself. Or - at the very least - I could not do it efficiently, effectively or (most likely) correctly.

So learn that there is still so much more that you have to learn and refuse to do it all yourself. You're probably not a highly skilled writer, graphic designer, programmer, social media expert, financial consultant, and branding expert. Focus your time and energy on what you know best: your business. You, your customers AND your bottom line will benefit from it.

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