Be better for yourself than your customer
Just about every business falls in to one trap at some point in its life - delivering its own service for the business in a substandard way.
The business doing for itself what it provides its customers or clients presents a range of benefits, it offers cost savings, opportunities to train and develop staff and the chance to showcase specialties and expertise. The risk that the business then faces is producing sub-standard work brought about by outside challenges (such as time pressures from paying work).
When customers and competitors look at a business they judge it on the way it compares - how it presents itself and the work it does. If both are covered well the business presents well. If (or when) they fall short of the expected mark however, problems can arise for the business.
The principal issue is of credibility. The notion that "if they can't get it right for themselves, why should I trust them to do it for me" plays a major role in the way customers make their purchasing decisions. The commercial impact of going out too soon with a product or service can be long term, especially in relationship based sales markets.
A good example of this is in the relatively new market space around online communication. There are countless "rules" for posting and sending material online, based on effectiveness, audience engagement and fatigue and the way content is generated and what is deemed relevant.
Recently one business which pushes itself as an industry leader has been breaking the rules it preaches to customers and competitors - mass email outs, overly frequently and drawing on unoriginal content, as well as repeating the same social media posts multiple times. While there are a range of reasons which could be given for each individual part, the problem arises from the overall picture created.
In this particular case there is a feeling of the business being desperate to dominate the conversation, but not having the content to do so. While the real reason for this is probably that it was flat out completing work for clients and developing their content, the feeling their followers are left with is quite different.
So how do you avoid the pitfall of not being at your best for your own business?
- Do the full job.
In almost every business there are levels of service. Sometimes clients or customers aren’t willing or able to pay for everything, when you’re doing the job for yourself though you should always go from top to tail.
Complete the full planning and review phases, seek feedback, allow time to complete each phase and make sure your best skills are utilised.
- Plan it with your workload.
Paying work has to come first. It’s the reality of being in business, and really it just makes sense.
When you’re planning the timeframe for the internal project be sure to take into consideration the work the business has on. Try to line up with quiet periods, or extend the timeframe for longer than you normally would for a similar project to ensure maximum attention can be given to each phase (see point 1).
- Push boundaries.
If you’re the best at something you should demonstrate it wherever you can. On the business itself is a perfect example. Whether you’re a professional service, a product or a combination business, the business itself is your best marketing tool.
If you are innovative in your field, showcase how that’s the case. Apply it to your own business - not only does it become a great case study, but it provides you with a good place to beta or bug test, to iterate design and features and find problems before your clients and customers do.
- Be humble.
Let the work do the talking for you. We’re starting to get into the psychological realm here, but your potential customers aren’t looking for you to tell them how great you did on your own business. They want to see that and make their own assessment, while you tell them what you can do for them. There is a big difference between being all talk and all show.
Your skills and the way they’re applied to the business should seem natural. It shouldn’t be surprising to you or anyone else that you delivered a great result on your internal project.
- Leave it alone.
You’re going to be with it every day, and that means you’ll come to dislike elements of the project. Don’t fiddle with it for the sake of fiddling, if there is a major fix needed then roll it out as quickly as possible, otherwise once the project is signed off and implemented or applied JUST LEAVE IT!
Constant revisiting is expensive, more than that, it makes current or prospective clients and customers uncomfortable.
If your business can’t stick to these five points, there may be merit in considering engaging a subcontractor to deliver the project for you. Being too close to something is one of the most common ways to damage the potential of a project. It might be a hard sell internally, but remember, your customers care about the result too. Get it right the first time!