Let’s say you want to climb Mt. Everest.
The first thing you do is go online (or visit a library, if you’re old-school) and research anything and everything related to mountain climbing. You check internet forums, browse product descriptions, read reviews, and even ask a few questions on a Reddit thread.
You’re fully and completely armed with all the knowledge you need, so you visit your local sporting goods store to purchase the oxygen tanks, crampons, and rope you selected based on your research. You’re ready. Nothing could possibly go wrong.
Now, if you’re as smart as I think you are, you probably see this scene for what it really is: a disaster waiting to happen. After all, you’re not an expert in mountain climbing. You sometimes trip walking up your own stairs! How can you possibly trust a couple of strangers on the internet with your life?
The Customer is Always Right?
Sadly, this type of thing happens all the time, in businesses all over the world (we’re sure at least some of them may be sporting goods stores). Rather than hire a consultant to give an honest, face-to-face, customized opinion, people simply ask for the one thing they’ve already decided on.
They order the paella at the Spanish restaurant (without telling the server they’re allergic to shellfish).
They ask the guy at Home Depot where to get the mildewcide (without first checking to see if mold is also behind the wall).
They ask their web guy to build a mobile app (without bothering to ask whether it’s a good idea).
Because all of these things—paella, mold killer, apps—are useful for something, but not necessarily for everyone in every situation.
It reminds me of a scene from the sitcom Will & Grace. Too cheap to hire a personal trainer of her own, one character takes to following another woman and her trainer around the gym and sneakily copying their every exercise.
When she is finally found out, and accuses the personal trainer of being incompetent, she discovers the workout has been designed for a completely different purpose than she had hoped for. No wonder she wasn’t getting the results she wanted!
It’s the same when you trust those who aren’t familiar with your unique situation to tell you that this service, or this product, is the best choice.
That’s why the TV commercials for pharmaceuticals always tell you to “ask your doctor if this drug is right for you.” There might be a thousand different factors (with your business as well as your health) that contribute to a solution being the answer to your prayers…or a dud.
What Do You Need?
When climbing Mt. Everest, your best bet is to hire a guide (and perhaps a couple of sherpas). A guide is not only familiar with the mountain’s topography, s/he can also assess your fitness level, analyze the weather conditions, and identify tricky patches of ice and snow that would otherwise devastate the first-time climber.
Similarly, you (whether you’re a consumer working on a project or a small business owner trying to make a living) also need a guide that will understand the level you’re starting at, the level you want to reach, and the state of the path you need to traverse. In short, you need to hire a consultant.
A customer might ask for 6 hibiscus plants; a consultant can tell her that her yard doesn’t get enough sun.
If someone orders a front door, an consultant can remind them to double-check their measurements and order a permit.
A new client might ask for bangs, an expert hairstylist can tell her that it simply won’t work with her cowlicks.
You might think your business can use a social media site instead of your own URL; a consultation with a trustworthy expert will tell you otherwise.
When you’re a small business owner, seeking out an expert opinion is just as important as providing it to your own customers. Just as you keep your clientele informed about your industry, make sure you let an expert advise you of the things you’re not knowledgeable about.
And make sure you heed their advice. Your pride is not worth a fall from the summit.
Clarity Creative Group is a web design & internet marketing company located in beautiful Orlando, Florida. We aren’t familiar with mountain climbing (cuz, you know, Florida…), but we can help you with all of your web-related questions.