Learn When To Take Off Your Bootstraps

I have a few clients who are on the top of their field and started new businesses. Like lots of new business owners, they want to use targeted marketing to reach a pool of customers who will seriously benefit from their product. So they hired me, a marketing consultant.

But I noticed that a lot of them also do something interesting: they start reading marketing manuals, and even sign up for lectures on social media and web presence.

That’s good. I want my clients to have at least a basic understanding of what’s going on in the marketing process, and a more-than-basic understanding makes it even easier for us seriously affect our audience with kick-ass ideas.

Here’s the problem: understanding a manual or a lecture isn’t the same as understanding a course of action. And a super-basic understanding can be worse than having no understanding at all.

I cringe a bit when I hear something like this: “I know it’d be good if we did more social outreach, so I asked a guy on our dev team to tweet a bit and do some stuff on LinkedIn.”

That guy on your dev team is not a Twitter pro. He’s a developer. He’s spent years honing his app-making and platform-running skills, and they’re incredible. I have no idea how he does it, and maybe if I read a manual I’d get a beginning glimpse of what he’s doing. But I’d never dare presume I could start making amazing apps right off the bat because I sat in on an hour lecture.

So with that in mind, what’s he doing running your social media?

When your team is bootstrapping, it’s expected — and important — for team members to take on many different roles. Your dev guys will be your marketers, and your CEO will be your head of sales.

But when you’ve hired someone explicitly for marketing, it’s OK to take off your boots and relax a bit. Let yourself be the expert of your field and let me be the expert in mine.

As I’m sure you’re aware, it’s difficult to do your job effectively if you’re trying to simultaneously master another craft. So now that you’ve got the dough to bring on new team members, relish in the fact that you can be more productive in your field without having to pick up a completely new one on a whim.

Trust me, it’s better for both of us this way: you won’t be hustling to gain five years of experience in five months, and I won’t be trying to find a way around your shortcuts.