Consulting Top Tip: Breaking Free of the “Doctor Do as I Say, not as I Do” Syndrome

I’ve been a marketing and customer communication consultant full time since February 1999. Around March 2001, I redid my website, and that website remained in place, pretty much in the same format, until October 2009. I cringe as I write that. It’s not that the site was horrible, but it was sadly out of date. Instead of practicing what I preached, I fell into a doctor’s “do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do” syndrome — advising clients to do things that I was ignoring in my own business.

Part of the reason that updating my site was low on my radar was simply because I didn’t need it to bring in business. It was more of a confirmation of my capabilities, an online portfolio when needed. My clients didn’t care. They cared about how I helped others and how I could help them. But I had reached a point where it no longer reflected current best practices, not a good thing in my field. So I did what I coach my clients to do. I looked at my site and services from my audience’s perspective. What would work for them? What would they want to see? And I built a new site to better service them.

So in a way, I was really practicing what I preached. I was approaching my customer communications from my audience’s perspectives — not just what I thought was important. But I still needed to set time aside to put on my “best face” and escape the marketing rut.
Breaking Free of the “Doctor Syndrome”
As entrepreneurs running full businesses, we consultants often find ourselves spread thin. So we let our marketing slide — especially if our business tends to be word of mouth. The good news: we’re not alone. The bad news: we still can sink. By the way, this also applies to common business/office tasks like accounting, filing, etc.

Breaking free of the “Doctor Syndrome” isn’t as painful or time consuming as it may seem:

  • Create a high-level list of the marketing or business tasks that you’ve let slide
  • Identify tasks that are within your expertise to handle and the ones that are better to outsource (outsource what isn’t an optimum use of your time or is beyond your skill set)
  • Set aside 30 minutes a day, 3 – 5 days a week to tackle those tasks 

Objection # 1: 30 minutes a day won’t get me anywhere. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done in those 1.5 – 2.5 hours. If you’re a writer, for example, you can have your website copy done in a few weeks. The key is truly focusing during that time. You can also set a few hours once a week to those tasks, whichever feels less overwhelming to you. Many people find it easier to set aside 30 minutes a day than several hours in one day.

Objection # 2: I don’t have 30 minutes a day. That may be true. I know I’ve been burning the midnight oil a lot lately. Trying to fit in another 30 minutes can be overwhelming. But the question is, can you afford not to? If you’ve let your marketing (or accounting or other similar task) go for a long while, the answer is probably no. So do a little give and take, a little trade-off, and let something else slide for a bit, so you can get the much-neglected tasks done. Or you can outsource time-draining tasks that aren’t the best use of your time.

Objection # 3: I can’t afford to outsource. It may seem that way, but can you afford not to do it? If you outsource things like your accounting, tax preparation, and filing (assuming you’re not a tax accountant) ;-), yes, you have to pay the person you hire. But the hours you would’ve spent on those tasks are now open for you to do client work, business development, marketing, and other tasks that bring in income to your business. Most, if not all, top consultants — the big earners — outsource the tasks that are a poor use of their time. It may be a little painful at first, but in the long run, you’ll likely find that it boosts your income and gives you peace of mind.

There are other objections, sure. And there are other ways of overcoming these objections. I’d love to hear from everyone else what they do. I’m always looking for best practices that I can adopt in my own business.

Happy 4th of July!' About Avery Horzewski

Principal of AVE Consulting, Avery is a marketing and customer communications consultant, and serves on WIC's board of directors as president. As a consultant, she works with companies of all sizes to develop compelling, persuasive, and effective customer-centric marketing and communication strategies that encompass everything from websites to social media to print collateral. Avery assumed the role of WIC president in January 2010, after overseeing the organization’s marketing, PR, social media, and website initiatives for three years.

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