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Inside vs. outside


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We were in a new-business meeting, and the prospective client asked us what made clients difficult to work with. We talked about clients who internally couldn’t get on the same page, which does in fact make things difficult. But on the drive home, it occurred to me that I forgot the granddaddy of all.

It happens all the time. Business owners believe that they can be objective about their own businesses. Impossible.

I hate to be so emphatic, but if you own the joint, you cannot see it through the same lens as someone on the outside. Here is a phrase I utter repeatedly: “You cannot accurately describe the outside of the bottle if you are on the inside.”

If you own or run the business, you have a grossly disproportionate amount of knowledge about the industry, the product/service and your specific business. All of that makes you uniquely qualified to be biased.

Think you can shake it off and become objective? Think again. It’s sort of like knowing that Santa isn’t real and then trying to go through the entire holiday season believing the old guy is really coming down your chimney. You can simulate the belief, but it’s tainted with what you know. You cannot unknow it.

So how do you get objectivity?

You put together an advisory council. You do research. You pay attention to what social media sites are saying and doing. You hire an outside expert. You ask your customers. You ask the people who opted not to buy.

But you don’t rely on your objectivity.

Drew McLellan is Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group and blogs at www.drewsmarketingminute.com. He can be reached at Drew@MclellanMarketing.com. © 2009 Drew McLellan

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