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 great at what he does.
The flyer had nine typographic or punctuation errors. Nine.
Chances are good that I was not the only one who noticed.
By showing a lack of attention to detail in his own work, how can he expect his prospects to be confident that he won’t do the same for them?
In full disclosure, I’m guilty of more than my share of typos. Oh boy, have I made some big ones! When print was still king, errors became very costly. And I’m a former proofreader who should know better.
In the case of my colleague, his expertise was not in writing. He would have been better served by having someone proofread his work and offer constructive criticism.
Stop Trying to Do It All Yourself.
Nobody is an expert at everything. Nobody. The last time I met someone who knew it all was never. Every now and then, we all find ourselves forced into situations outside of our comfort zones. 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. 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 help you when you’re in a bind will eventually need you to return the favor. 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. We are all imperfect beings in an imperfect world trying to achieve perfection.
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. That 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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