There are times when even the smallest business decision feels like life or death. When, despite your experience, smarts, and leadership position you hear that voice that says: What if I get this wrong?
Happens all the time. We’ve seen companies delay (often for years) committing to an initiative or innovation because executives can’t make up their minds or fear making the wrong choice. The same goes for beginning a branding project or even choosing an expert partner to help with the work.
Perhaps you’re in charge of a brand and it’s clear that you and the company need to make some changes. But you’re not exactly sure what the problem is, and so you’re challenged to choose the right team. You might delay getting started, or break a big project into small chunks that don’t effectively tackle the larger issue you need to resolve. (We understand; we’ve coached marketing leaders in your chair before.)
Recognize What’s Giving You Pause
If you’re hesitant to engage a strategic partner or commit to a project, it might be helpful to first understand why. A few insights:
Some organizations are built for comfort, not for speed. Even if your brand was founded on passion, innovation, and entrepreneurship, the growth of the organization may have dampened those early risk-taking tendencies. As the company has added staffers, won fans among consumers, built retail partnerships, and grown revenue, decision making becomes more difficult. The stakes feel higher. Your butt’s on the line, and you’re afraid of making the wrong choice.
Two, growth tends to throw even upstart brands out of alignment. When your organization isn’t aligned to a common cause, personal agendas overwrite the brand’s mission and purpose. Decision making is tainted by individuals’ preferences and interests. The more people you ask for input, the harder and more confusing it is to make the right decision.
Let’s also acknowledge the immense anxiety that’s pervading society and, by extension, business right now. Uncertainty breeds fear and indecision.
What to Expect When You Engage the Right Strategic Partner
Which marketing strategist is the right group for us to partner with? Do we even need outside help? What should we hire them to do? What if we make the wrong choice?
If uncertainty is in the way of your decision, then knowing what to expect may help sweep that aside.
Imagine what is possible when the brand is surrounded by a team of internal and external experts who are passionately committed to the cause. When you bring to the table expertise that your bench doesn’t currently have and an objective point of view that your internal folks can’t possibly possess.
An outside partner — the right outside partner — will help you see the opportunities right under your nose that you’re too in the weeds to see. They’ll walk alongside your team, sharing expertise and experience, helping you make the decisions with confidence and bravery. They’ll give you tough news gently and cheer your wins enthusiastically.
When you build a team that includes both internal and external experts, you establish a think tank around you that elevates your own expertise. You have weapons and systems at your fingertips that you didn’t have before.
A strategic partner can also help you undertake challenges that your team has been struggling with for years. They can diagnose problems and prescribe solutions quickly so the organization can spring into action. In our experience, any hesitation that marketers feel about letting outside experts in the door evaporates as they see the big picture, understand what they need to do, and become hopeful instead of skeptical about the future.
When prospects make the decision to enlist our brand strategy help, they become lighthearted, relieved, open to change — frankly, they’re jacked out of their gourds. (To be clear, we’re not for everyone, and that’s okay.)
As a sign-off, I’ll share a bit of reassurance: The risk isn’t choosing the wrong outside partner. Because even if it’s not the right fit, you’ll still gain a ton of valuable insight. The risk is to not engage at all.
Trust your instincts.
Reduce the number of people you’re talking to about this initiative to your mentors or closest business partners. The more you shop around a decision like this, the more conflicting opinion you’ll hear.
Be afraid and do it anyway. Any fear lies in the decision-making process, not the decision itself; you just need to get over the hump.
Understand the reality of what you can and can’t do. When you hold off making a bigger commitment to a strategic partner, you may instead try to chip away at your business problems piecemeal.
Know that in any engagement with outside expertise you’ll gain intelligence and insight, change the way you think as an organization, and start to see your blind spots. You can’t really blow this decision.
Ready? Give us a call.