I was flipping around the dial last evening when I came across a program called “Talking Funny” on HBO. It was Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Louis CK and Ricky Gervais talking about comedy and having, as the promo says “an unscripted conversation about what it means to be a comedian.” It was pretty funny stuff and, more importantly for our purposes in this space, it got me thinking about some broader business points I’d like to share.
One of them made the point that most people can amuse themselves. You or I can tell jokes and make ourselves and others laugh. This was said with a touch of bemusement and amazement that despite this fact, people pay a fair amount of money to go to comedy shows. And that’s the business point.
The response was “of course they do – because we’re professionals.” A light went on in my mind. After all, we could get our friends and play football in the backyard but who would watch? Some of us can cook but it’s not the same as when we go out. Because when we do, professionals go to work.
This is a bit of the same discussion I have when speaking to potential clients about why they might want to hire someone like me. After all, you can do your own strategy or break out numbers and do data analysis. You’ve shopped online so why not do your own online commerce planning? There’s plenty of free stuff about SEO or SEM on the web. Why hire me and my ilk?
The answer is the same: because we’re professionals. If I give a 5 year old a chain saw and say “go cut down a tree”, they have the right tool but they’re not suited for the task. To a certain extent, it’s the same with people who think social media and other digital stuff isn’t that difficult – the tools are free and easy to learn, right? The difference is I and my peers have context – in my case, 30+ years of business experience to help me understand which tools is appropriate and, more importantly, what the business reason is for using any tool in the first place.
Professionals are doing the same things we can do. But they’re way better at it, which is why we pay them to make us laugh or to make us money.
Did you see the show? Thoughts?