“You may be very savvy on your own, but it doesn’t compare to working with a qualified team or consultant with great experience and a great track record.”

With the proliferation of handheld technology, it often feels as if we have the whole world in our hands, literally. The ability to let our fingers do the walking to come up with our own answers can be a huge advantage, but there are also risks in over-relying on ourselves. 

Once again, I am home, safe and sound, B”H, after a business trip to the annual GlobalShop exhibition, held this year at McCormick Place in Chicago. But this time, the return trip was far from routine.

Nerves were frazzled at airports – even more than usual – the day following the horrific bombing at the 2013 Boston Marathon. I was booked to fly back from Chicago to New York on the normally reliable American Airlines, only to discover that American’s computer systems had crashed, resulting in the cancellation of almost 750 flights and delays on 1,000 more.

My flight was scheduled to depart at 7:35 pm. Confusion reigned. I had no idea if my flight was among the cancellations, and with the system down, there seemed to be no way of checking when flights would resume and how I would be rebooked.

Fortunately, my trip had been booked through the services of a travel agent, Motty Goldstein of Travel Leaders, who handles travel arrangements for Edison Litho – the client I represented at GlobalShop. I will share BE”H some of my experiences from this year’s GlobalShop, which is the world’s largest annual event for the print industry and retail design in a future column. Until then, I found what I learned from using the services of a pro like Motty to be equally valuable.  

I saw, firsthand, the importance of having someone knowledgeable, professional and experienced behind me in a stressful situation. To be on the receiving end of great service, rather than trying to navigate a challenging and confusing situation by myself, was also a chesed that I truly appreciate.

It reminded me of how often we are forced to decide, in both our professional and personal affairs, whether to tackle a project or dilemma by relying on our own wits and wisdom or to avail ourselves of a seasoned professional. This conundrum can arise when deciding how to handle home improvements, make investments and file taxes, when planning a vacation, and certainly when trying to determine the best courses of action to promote our businesses and organizations.

If we lack the requisite skills, there is no question that we call in a pro, especially when safety or health is a factor. Any sensible person who has a faulty electrical circuit in his home will call the electrician rather than trying to fix it himself, and we are all familiar with the statement that “he who is his own doctor has a fool for a patient.”

Where our decision to either DIY – do it yourself – or HAP – hire a pro comes into play is when we possess some, but not all of the capabilities and resources required to complete a task successfully.  

John Follis, a business owner and nationally respected marketing executive, whose successful campaigns have been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USAToday, noted that the DIY vs. HAP issue is especially applicable to entrepreneurs, who by nature, are DIYers. While that trait may serve them well in many areas, says Follis, there is one specific area where it actually works against them: Marketing. And he gives a few reasons why.

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

You may be very savvy on your own, but it doesn’t compare to working with a qualified team or consultant with great experience and a great track record. If you try to do it all by yourself, what you don’t know will hurt you, like having a tag-line that makes no sense or sends a wrong message, or having a self-produced video that’s so unprofessional it boomerangs on you. The list goes on.

A Business Owner Can’t Be Objective

Passionate business owners tend to be absorbed by their business, but effective marketing starts with an unbiased perspective. Follis suggests reading Ken Segall’s book: Insanely Simple, about his work with Apple and you’ll read how Steve Jobs was proven wrong time and time again by his more objective and talented outside team who created some of the world’s most iconic and successful marketing.

Great Marketing Requires Talent

Great marketing is part science, part art. Yet, the creative part often gets lost or diminished in this ever-advancing tech world. Focused, creative talent is the ingredient that helps communicate your message and persuade your prospects to buy. It’s not easy to find, but if you do it’ll make a huge difference.

DIY Doesn’t Really Save Money

Saving money on outside resources seems like the economical way to go but you also have to balance that against what your own time is worth. Every expensive minute you spend fumbling with something you don’t do well is taking away valuable time and talent from something you do great.

And in case you were wondering how I got back to New York: Motty got me onto a United Airlines flight, leaving approximately the same time as my original flight. How he did it, I don’t know – but I definitely learned that day, “Go with a pro!”

This Week’s Bottom Line Action Step: It’s OK – and smart – to leverage professionals to take you to the next level.

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