Over the years, I’ve found that it’s easier to point out the mistakes of others than it is to avoid making my own.

I was at a recent networking function and a colleague handed out a homemade flyer about an upcoming event he was hosting. Really nice guy. Seems to be pretty good at what he does.

The flyer had nine typographic or punctuation errors. Nine.

If you show a lack of attention to detail in your own work, how can you expect prospects to be confident that you won’t do the same for them?

In full disclosure, I’m guilty of more than my share of typos. (This is coming from a former proofreader!) We are, after all, imperfect beings in an imperfect world trying to achieve perfection. But, I’ve tried to learn from my mistakes, usually after others have pointed them out to me. And, I’m fine with that. Continuous improvement tends to happen incrementally, not in leaps.

Stop Trying to Do It All Yourself.

Nobody is an expert at everything. Nobody. At one time or another, we all find ourselves forced into situations outside of our sweet spot. That’s why it’s important to rely on the expertise of others to help you make educated decisions and get the job done right. These advisers and doers can be your greatest assets, if you use them wisely … and reciprocate.

For example, I never touch my web server. I’m just not comfortable with it. So, I let others take care of the back-end work, allowing me to focus on what I do best. Quarterly taxes? Forget it. That’s what I have an accountant for. But, you see, that’s okay, too. These tasks are simply out of my comfort zone. Just like working on my car or cutting down trees, I’d rather let the pros take care of them.

If certain marketing disciplines just aren’t your bailiwick, tap into the expertise of those who can help you avoid the pitfalls of looking unprofessional. Colleagues who provide their insights to help you when you’re in a bind will likely need you to return the favor some day. We’re all in this together. So, work out a trade agreement or informal understanding. “You scratch my back …”

A Road to Recovery

What if you do blunder? How do you recover? Well, the first thing you do is own it. If it’s serious, try to diffuse the problem and offer ways to fix it. If it’s relatively minor, find some self-deprecating humor in it, correct it and move on. You’ll find people are more forgiving when you demonstrate some humility.

Remember, there are reasons, but usually not excuses for preventable errors. For example, we recently sent a mailing with a typo in the subject line. How embarrassing! The reason it happened was due to a last-minute change. But, that was no excuse for not triple-checking it or sending a test mailing to an associate to review it. We were lucky. It was a harmless error. We then followed up the next day with the same mailing, but with a new subject line (“INEXCUSABLE!”) and appended it with a mea culpa and relevant link. The follow-up mailing had more responses than the original one. WHEW!

Don’t Sweat Over It

There’s no excuse for haste in your marketing. Take your time to ensure that things are the best they can be. Build relationships with trusted colleagues for their expertise and objectivity. When you make the inevitable error — and you surely will — don’t sweat too much over it. Take responsibility for it, fix it and move on.

Remember, we all make mistakes. How we choose to deal with them is what really matters.

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