keenchick

Stories and thoughts about family and life

I’m not the best marketing person

on September 17, 2013

But I am the marketing person.  And more.  Have you seen the “Dave” commercial from Staples (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXO46Jbtzuk)?  Anyone who owns a small business can tell you the same.  You are the one who opens the mail, maintains the website, designs the marketing materials, and pays the bills.  And that’s before you do any actual WORK.  Our little fledgling business has started to come into its own.  I have managed to grow from a one-person team, into a seven-person team, and we’re all figuring out where we fit and how to get the work accomplished.   I’m probably the one who has the hardest part learning all that, though.  I did it by myself for so long, and so many of these relationships are very personal to me, that it’s difficult to let go.    Don’t get me wrong–I have completely wonderful competent people. It’s a problem with me.  What if I don’t make sure something is done?  What if I let us fail?  The irony is that you can stress yourself out so much that you feel like you’re failing anyway.  So, that has been my lesson for the past couple of years.  Get back to delegating.  Hire people you trust.  Train them and love them and trust them.

My objective for this year was to move us into a larger arena.  Keep the business we’ve earned and set us up to generate more.  Sounds simple, right?  Sure.  Until you get ready to do it.  I’m a planner by nature, so I spent some time evaluating potential clients in various regions of the state.  Networking is one of my strengths, so some of that worked itself out and we’ve been very fortunate to gather some new business through that and pure word of mouth.  Our work is good, and while it could always be better it’s been good enough to get the attention of people who need us.  But I can’t just wait on the clients to contact us.  I have to make some of that magic happen on my own.

I’m amused at the number of full-time jobs I’ve given myself.  I really am Dave, and I have a love/hate relationship with Dave.   I love my life, and I love that this little business that was just an idea three and a half years ago is now approaching its second serious growth.  I’m back to evaluating leases, determining space, buying software, and hiring more staff.

I have always loved to learn new things.  I’m that person that wants to know how things work and how this one thing fits into the bigger picture.  I’m very fortunate that my mentor is someone who has worked with me for years and understands that about me.  He also knows exactly how to push my buttons and move me in the right direction.  The most important, he knows that while I’m good at networking and I’m not a half-bad writer, I don’t love the marketing part.  I left a job several years ago that had me “selling my soul” more than I would have liked.  No offense to you marketing folks.  You make the world go ’round, but I’m not the person for it.  I don’t like rejection.  Not all all.  It not only frustrates me, but it causes a very personal reaction that I can’t quite explain.  I think that you are born to be a marketer, or you’re not.   I, apparently, was not.  But, like Dave, I have to consider that aspect of my business.  I don’t have the money to hire of VP of Marketing (or a director, or a manager, or even a grunt) yet, and so it falls to me.    Despite my own shortfall in this area, though, we’ve done okay for ourselves.

Besides, I have a solution.  I’ve turned my staff into marketers.  We’ve done an intermittent marketing program that has been mildly successful, and could probably be more so long-term.  So, as I sat drafting ideas for that and how I could attach financial incentives to each milestone, I contemplated how this delegation would impact the business.   I remember working on a team at a previous employer and implementing a hiring incentive program, reasoning that if your employees are happy, they’re going to tell their friends.  I’m glad to have employees who enjoy their workplace and like their jobs and we have already reaped the benefits of employees who have found us new business.  I hope to see that grow even more, and help those employees know they’ve had a stake in making our company better and stronger.    I still have to market us, but at least the whole company isn’t solely dependent on what I consider to be my biggest weakness.

I already am not the “Dave” I was in 2010.  Back then,  I literally WAS the only one doing everything.  That commercial used to make me laugh not just in understanding of Dave’s role but in how clever the commercial was itself.  I look around now and I see an office that is close to bursting at the seams with people and equipment and work.  I can’t help but be proud.  WE built this.  Not me.  WE.  People who are here now, and people who have come and gone.  Clients who have been with us since the beginning, and clients who only needed us for a short time.  Every one of them has had a hand in who we are, and every one of them (employee and client alike) has taught me lessons I will retain and use to be better.

Maybe some day I’ll miss being Dave.  Nah, probably not.  🙂

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