Most people feel they have an idea of what good marketing looks like even if they aren’t actual professional marketers. As a marketing agency we have ample opportunities to hear from family, friends, and yes, even clients on what a good marketing idea they have for our marketing approach. When that occurs, we do our best to say thank you without rolling our collective eyes.
It’s not that a non-marketing person could never come up with a good marketing concept. It could happen as ideas come from many places and shutting out all outside contributions is never a smart path. But if a non-professional came up with a terrific marketing approach off the top of their head, it would be….incredibly lucky. But not impossible.
When I was quite a bit younger, I played tennis at a relatively high level. Some tournaments (never won any), and I played on teams of various types even after college. One time I played a younger guy (I was in my late 20’s and he was around 20) and beat him 6-0 6-0. He remarked that I was so good that I should play John McEnroe! While this was indeed the highest praise I ever received and would ever receive) as a tennis player, I told him that the way I beat him that night would be the way McEnroe would beat me. I would have been lucky to win points much less a game or more. The level difference was so great, but to someone who had not played at higher levels it was not as clear.
There are some really accomplished amateur musicians who when they play, will knock your socks off. But they are NOT professionals. The grind it takes to be a professional is underappreciated. It’s hard enough to be proficient enough at anything to be an actual professional. Getting paid and making your living doing something you love in a field that has limited opportunities is just hard. Maintaining being a professional requires continual improvement – another often overlooked aspect. It’s easy to fall back because hard work is a pain but always is necessary. There’s a bunch of somebodies who are itching to take your place.
The same can be said of being a thought of as a good cook. I have a friend in the restaurant business who pointed out that people like me who enjoy food, ingredients, and cooking are ‘food enthusiasts’. We have some level of kitchen skills and knowledge but and it’s a big but, we are not professionals, and are far from being such. He didn’t tell me this, I figured that out all on my own. Think about this way – What you would do if a professional chef came into your home was offered to cook after you had laid out all the ingredients for a meal. Would you cook the meal anyway? Not likely. Professional techniques and knowledge matter in the production of the final product. You’d expect and count on the chef to impress and even delight you in ways you had not even considered. That’s the difference between a professional and someone who is smart, cares, and is enthusiastic, but is not a pro.
What goes into making a true professional is a lot more than meets the eye!
One thing I have sadly discovered — professionalism is more than expertise. It’s a certain persona, a certain intellect. While some of us (even me) might be bright, we are just not that bright. While self-improvement should always be a goal, it must come with realistic expectations.