March 17, 2009

The Balance of Experience & Skill

Filed under: Marketing Philosophy, Meeting Marketers, Personal Branding — Robert John Ed @ 2:00 pm

A person with a trade or business skill set often faces a decision when entering a new industry or opportunity.  When to rely on skill and when to rely on experience of others.  It’s not an easy decision.

Most professionals have accrued their own experience and ability over the years.  They understand and trust those things to the extent that they are not afraid to apply them to new situations (at least the good ones, poor ones may be cursed with uncertainty all their careers).

When entering a new situation, these people must figure out where to apply their skill.  Now, anyone foolish enough to not attempt to learn from the people who have already been in a situation will ultimately risk alienation and failure based on hubris.  EVERYONE has something to teach you, one way or another.  But sometimes people have things to teach you that might not be as valuable as the skills you’ve built  over the years.  It’s your responsibility to be intrinsically critical of what other people are admonishing for the betterment of the situation as a whole.

For instance, lets say you are a designer and someone comes to you with a critique of how you’ve placed a logo within the firm you work for.  Despite the fact that this person has good intentions, it’s obvious that they don’t understand an overarching theme toward branding that you do.  In this situation you would certainly have to say thank you for the suggestion and politely refrain from making alterations or explain to them why the proof must stay the way you originally designed it.  That’s an obvious situation.  For marketers, it can often be more difficult to fully grasp the ramifications of suggestions from others.  Some people may not fully understand what they are suggesting and its impact.  Everyone on the planet understands marketing to an extent, we’re all consumers.  But it’s important to understand others and their skill sets too.  Have they ever really had to do copy writing?  Have they designed anything?  Have they ever really sold something to someone?  EVERYONE will have suggestions from you for these types of things, because everyone has preferences for the way they’re marketed to.

The fact that someone has been in an industry a long time doesn’t mean that they’ve necessarily done the work necessary to complete YOUR job.  That’s what you are there for after all.

This is difficult subject matter.  Because you can learn from anyone in any industry, but there are times when people will give you advice that isn’t as strong as the experience you’ve built.  Figuring out when those instances arise is extremely hard.  But you have to figure them out, for the betterment of your campaign, company and career.  As always, focus on the first two as much as possible and the latter follows.

All that said, it’s critically important to learn from people who HAVE done your job.  Put dollars to donuts they are better at it than you are.


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