Dawn Smith

maisol media, LLC - Copywriter
Atlanta, GA

    Lead With Strength

    September 16, 2008

    My former boss would stick out his chest out exclaiming, “We must lead from strength!” It was not until I became a consultant that I grasped the meaning of this powerful phrase. Businesses must recognize their strengths and market them fervently. Agility might be necessary in this ever-changing marketplace, but businesses – especially small businesses – that attempt to be everything to everyone inevitably fail.


    Internally, business owners who don too many hats are certain to become overwhelmed. They overlook important tasks and attempt to tackle duties outside of their areas of expertise. This is most apparent in marketing and administration. Easy access to word processing, desktop publishing and web design software lulls business owners into a false sense of ability. They assume their ability to use the software translates to the talent needed to create professional materials that produce results.


    Rudimentary ability should never be a substitute for expertise. Many professionals boast of their writing skills. Without a comprehensive knowledge of the theory and mechanics of writing, these professionals produce pieces riddled with embarrassing errors. Press releases go to the media with improper formatting and full of advertorial copy. Just as sure as you can say, “spam,” editors trash these press releases almost as quickly as they arrive.


    All too often, eager business owners create postcards in a generic desktop publisher program. They throw in a barrage of cartoon clipart without giving pause to what colors detract from sales. They mail them out to prospective clients and wait in vain for the calls to pour in. They never do – at least not at a rate to keep the business alive. Score one for big businesses who know better.


    “I cannot afford a copywriter or graphic designer,” is what small business owners say. Most business experts agree that 20% of a business’ budget should go into its marketing. Still, marketing seems to be an afterthought to the average small business owner. They believe customers will overlook their lackluster or non-existent marketing materials and ignore the excellent pieces of their wiser competitors. They believe that their clients – usually other businesses – will understand their plight when piece mill direct mail inches across their desk.


    They do not understand. I have seen many an executive mercilessly pick apart a competitor’s website, or direct mail piece. I have even chuckled over terribly written press releases. It is a shame. A business owner’s time is much better spent running and growing their business instead of doing something outside of their skill set.


    My recommendation to great business leaders is to find your strength and lead with it. When it comes to writing, leave that to the professionals.


    Dawn S. Smith is a writer and strategist, whose work has garnered critical acclaim for its ability to integrate issues of business, politics and popular culture into unique hybrid narrative forms. You can subscribe to her power packed posts by visiting her blog at http://www.maisolmedia.blogspot.com

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