Open letter to all business owners and entrepreneurs

Dear ambitious friend,

It pains me to see the money that you are wasting, not to mention the time lost and stress created, by turning to the wrong people for your marketing and branding needs. Just yesterday, I heard another tale from a friend whose client is taking branding advice from a website programmer. And it’s bad advice that will cost her way more money in the long run.

Think of your business like your house. Would you turn to your plumber to draw up architectural plans for your new renovation? Would you ask your cleaning person to re-wire your stereo? Would you consult your gardener for interior design advice?

Then why, oh why, do you continue to try to get all your marketing, PR and branding needs met by one person?  Web design, web programming, direct mail, brand strategy, PR, writing – these are noble and important skills that require expertise in specific areas in order to help you meet your goals. Each person is skilled in their craft and understand the nuances of it, to be sure. But asking a programmer what your logo should look like or an SEO expert how to create a brand positioning statement makes just as much sense as taking your sick dog to your dentist.

In the story mentioned above, this client claims she “likes” her web programmer. I’m sure she does. He’s probably awesome…at programming. But that doesn’t mean he understands how to  design a site well, or understand user interface techniques or even how to create a strong differentiated brand.

I’m sorry, but you can’t have it all. Marketing  – and business building in general these days – requires that you put together a team of specialists. When I worked in corporate, I often managed these people together as one cohesive team. And that is what I do for my clients: I am the brand strategist but I bring in designers, email marketers, or SEO experts to deliver on the client’s goals. I stitch the right team together for them to meet their needs. I can’t be all things to all people, and anyone who tells you that is lying.

When you need a business plan, go to a business planning consultant. When you need to communicate things visually, go to a designer first (who can subcontract a web programmer for you if you need to build a website). When you need to get schooled in the fine art of email marketing, go to an email marketing or online marketing expert. When you need a press release or want to get into the paper, seek out a PR consultant or publicist. And when you need brand advice, seek out a branding consultant or strategist.

Stop shooting yourselves in the foot and do right by your business – and save your sanity in the process.

Good luck!


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