Executive Directors, business owners and marketing specialists are, by nature, smart and savvy. We take pride in our ability to innovate, to analyze data and to make money. No two business owners or marketing specialists are alike—some are creative, out-side-the-box thinkers and some are practical, business-by-the-numbers doers. Those two personality types are often at odds with each other, a rivalry which creates some troublesome roadblocks in the marketing world. In Internet marketing and the technology industry, this is particularly problematic—we’re supposed to be blazing new trails and adapting business strategies to thrive in modern markets. When there’s a lack of diversity in the boardroom, however, those trails become shorter and those strategies become stagnant.
Holding a meeting and discussing problems, issues and ideas takes longer than just making a decision and putting it into action. Many professionals dread meetings because “time equals money” and time spent talking is time taken away from doing. Putting most of your time and effort into an Internet marketing strategy is great— if it works. If you concoct that strategy in a little box, isolated from the outside world, there’s a good chance it could fail. If you think your ideas are the only game in town, you’re going to fail sooner rather than later. If you’ve been at all successful in marketing or business, no one is going to argue that your ideas aren’t good, but they might argue that other people have good ideas, too.
I need to clarify a little bit here. When I say ‘boardroom’ I don’t only mean the place where an organization’s board of directors meets. I also mean a conference room where your marketing team brainstorms new ideas or the coffee shop where you pour over Google Analytics with your graphic designer. You might not have a board of directors. Or you might. For the purposes of this article, a boardroom is any place that people convene to discuss ideas and plan new strategies. After all, happy hour at a local dive bar might produce better results for your Internet marketing business than a 9am meeting in a well-lit conference room. That’s all up to you. The point is that there has to be a time and a place for your team to meet.
Many great organizations and marketing strategies start with the ideas of one person. That person might completely isolate herself from everyone else in her single-minded pursuit of the goal she knows that only she can reach. The thing is, there are very few small companies (especially in the marketing world) that rely upon only one person. This “genius in a box” might be ignoring great ideas from her SEO specialist, from her graphic artist or from her social media strategist. There’s no arguing that her ideas aren’t great, but her ideas become lesser because they don’t have the benefit of outside stimuli. Even in the unlikely case that the Genius in a Box works completely alone, peer input is imperative. If she misses a small detail and a strategy is ruined, that “wasted time” of listening to other ideas might have saved her months of both time and money.
Thinking that your ideas are better than everyone else’s isn’t the same as isolating yourself from other people’s insights, but it can be just as dangerous. Say you’re starting a marketing campaign for a new client and you’re sure that you have the only idea that’s going to work for them. You think no one else understands the client like you do. What if the client rejects your entire strategy (after you’ve already mocked up a website or made posters, even) and they tell you what they really want is something that your web designer suggested at the very beginning? Again, your ideas are good; they just aren’t necessarily immune to criticism.
Okay, now we’re coming to the point of this whole thing. We’ve already discussed the importance of not isolating yourself and not thinking your ideas are the only game in town, but how do we make sure it doesn’t happen? The answer is pretty simple—make sure your team of core thinkers, creators and decision makers is a diverse one. Try to equally balance men and women. If someone on your team knows your audience very well—a receptionist, for example—include him in the meeting. He might have some insight that no one else does. Most importantly, balance your creative and your technical people. The thinkers and the doers. Creative people need more levelheaded individuals to let them know when they’re floating too high in the clouds, and technical people need some prodding to take risks and think outside the box. A successful marketing strategy is all about balance, and one person (no matter how great their ideas are) is seldom balanced enough to carry the whole thing.
You surround yourself with great, brilliant people, whether they’re your coworkers or just industry peers. Even though your ideas are great, it’s absolutely vital to include input from outside sources whenever you undertake a major project. You don’t have to let someone else’s opinion be a deciding factor, but having more ideas and more information is never a bad thing. Regardless of where your boardroom is, whether you’re in arts or small business or who’s on your team—you need to be talking to one another. Time spent exchanging ideas is never time wasted. You might be at the center of your own marketing universe, but there is plenty of worthy people in your orbit.
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