I'm an outsider to every business I work with. From a consulting perspective, this is normal. And from a marketing perspective, this is fantastic. There is a major upside to hearing someone's opinion who does not live and breathe your business day in and day out.
But some small business owners might disagree. I'm an outsider and that means something bad. Something very, very bad.
This is my love letter to all Small Business Owners. I love you, I really do. Even if it doesn't seem like it.
Hello, my dear -
Let's just get this all out in the open.
Your business is your baby, and I do not know what it took to raise that child. The time, the money, the blood, the tears that you have put in and here I show up at your office with my pink notebook and clicky pen and start asking you questions on why you are doing this and not that? Why are you saying this versus that? Why are you promoting this versus that? Who the hell am I to say anything? I am the random person who doesn't know anything about all the hurdles and struggles you went through to be where you are today. But do you know who I represent? Your customer.
I'm asking you a bunch of annoying questions for good reason. As consumers, we don't have the energy or band-width to process the history of your business. You are selling something. Whether a product or a mission or a service - and the average consumer is going to stop listening to you after about thirty seconds. Just because you think what you do is awesome (and it probably is), doesn't mean your message is being heard. If I have these questions, so will your customer. Except after they ask the question, they're just going to move on. To a message that speaks to them, and to a brand that is more straight forward.
I get it. I'm pointing out the gaps in your business, and it can feel like I'm pointing out the failures of you, personally. You are doing a great job, but that’s not why you asked me to come in. If you want to pay someone to tell you how awesome everything is then A) You shouldn’t be talking to a consultant. B) You REALLY should not be talking to me. That's my job. I wouldn't be good at what I did if I didn't find areas in your business to grow.
When I sit down with you for the first time, I need to know the life blood of your business. I want to know what your employees do day in and day out. I want to know how your board talks about your brand in the community. I want to know what your customers think of your service. You have the final say in how you market your business – but when I come to you with an assessment and a strategy, it’s not just one part of the story. It’s the whole story. It’s not romantic – and it ain’t always pretty – but it’s a plan and it's tailored to help your marketing succeed.
What's the price of getting an outsider's opinion? It's more than a consulting fee. It's the price of feeling a little uncomfortable and being open to change. But like any healthy relationship, we both recognize our strengths and our weaknesses. I’m good at marketing. You’re good at running your business. So let’s take a deep breath in and agree that I’ll stay in my lane, and you worry about all the rest. And you know what, my dear? This could be the start of a beautiful thing...