By Andrew Neitlich


By Andrew Neitlich

In reading many of your posts to recent blogs, I want to first thank you for some very thoughtful and insightful posts that really round out my sometimes skewed perspective.

One thing I notice is a tendency to have an either/or mentality, for instance, “I can be a great designer or great at sales/marketing.”

The book Built to Last by Jim Collins (a business classic by the way) has a whole chapter about how great companies shift from “or” to “and,” while laggards get stuck in either/or.

What if you were a great designer AND great at sales/marketing. What would it take for you to rise to that challenge?


  • evolve

    Interesting perspective, however a question arises in my mind.

    Say you have a client who needs a website designed, however they plan on marketing their website themselves. Why would they come to you as opposed to going to someone who strictly deals with design?

    I might become concerned with the product of companies who become so multi-talented.

  • Ryan Wray

    When I first saw this post I thought it might have to do something with bitwise operators. On closer inspection, this entry is very true, in most cases. However, specialisation does allow you to concetrate in one field, and excel in it – rather than being mediocre at numerous fields. It really depends, and a web designer who works alone obviously does need to be multi-faceted.

  • aneitlich

    Let me clarify what the post means: Not to specialize in marketing as a discipline (although that makes sense, too) but rather to be great at marketing and selling your own services.

    Many professionals are reluctant to market their services, feeling like marketing and sales are dirty words. As a result, they let their work speak for themselves.

    Many love what they do, and take great pride and satisfaction in their work.

    But they hate marketing, or do it poorly.

    So the point of this post is to shift away from either/or thinking as a marketer of your services, and excel at both.

  • I think for any designer that thinks they have it all when it comes to talent, they need to take a hard look at the way they market themselves. The saying “you’re only as good as the image you portray” comes to mind. While in some cases letting your work speak for itself works, in most cases, you need to let the customer know why you are good. And the only way you can do this is by developing a good marketing message and working on your communication skills. I dont believe you can have one at the exclusion of the other. While a marketer can develop a medicore site that brings in good results, a great designer and a great marketer in one should be able to bring in fantastic results from a wider audience. You’re now percieved as an industry expert in two fields rather than one and have another skill to fall back on when demand for the other isn’t as high.

  • hdsol

    This is why I am not a one man show. I handle sales very well but I am also the Techie of the group. My business partner is the Graphics Guru and marketing man. I find this balance works well for us and creates a good balance of the services that we offer. I think that one person could provide all of the services but you run the risk of being just average in it. By focusing in just a few areas, you stand a better chance of reaching the top of the class. Besides it gives us someone else to blame when it hits the fan.

  • “Besides it gives us someone else to blame when it hits the fan.”

    How does this help portray a good image of your business? From the client point of view its still your business to blame regardless of which “employee” did it.

  • ctownsend

    I feel like maybe this post got a little off point, but I’m going to continue with the off point comments. I can see the value of focusing on one area to perfection, but I’m not so sure in today’s society it’s necessary. Think about the many services we use on a daily basis that have been consolidated for mere convenience and actually appreciated by many. For instance my telephone, long distance, cable, and Internet access are all through one company. Originally, this company

  • hdsol

    I don’t feel that I pigeon hole myself by focusing on certain areas. I keep my skills up in all areas but you will always have areas that will be stronger then others. IN my weaker areas I am balanced by the rest of my staff. The end result to my clients is a full service business that is strong in all areas. The smartest thing I did for my business and myself was to work with someone else. My personal workload was reduced because I was not wasteing time trying to do things that were not my strong points. The overall effect is a four fold increase in business with less effort. And for the record. I was JOKING about putting the blame on my partner. The fastest way to lose credibility with a client is to lie. I always own up to my mistakes. :>

  • I have three people on my team, we are each 1/3 shareholders. It’s worked great so far:
    1. A talented web design & systems integrator
    2. Myself, a business major with entrepreneuial skillsets
    3. A guy who is really good at sales

    Between the three of us, we have mos of our bases covered.

  • hdsol

    “Between the three of us, we have mos of our bases covered.”

    Thats exactly what I was saying

  • skeeterbug

    fyi, the original post didn’t say everyone has to excel at everything. the successful companies that seek out and instead of or don’t require every employee to know every job.

    it reminds me when i was supervising a mass production environment. my counterpart told me “what do you want, production or quality?”

    i wanted both and my shift proceeded to beat him in both – and crush him in quality.

    i didn’t know everything about everything, but i wanted the best production AND quality. my vision and goals were right. one of my most valuable skills was to motivate my people to know more and bring energy and excitement when applying it.

    it is a team concept and it is right on.

    we had a lot of fun as a group leading a multi-billion dollar production and quality. in fact, my last 6 months as their supervisor we held production records on every single production line half the time we ended our week.

    of the three other shifts that we competed against, they achieved this ZERO times.

    yes, we beat everyone in quality, too – even though we often had to clean up the sloppy errors of prior shifts (and they didn’t for us). the other three direct comparison shifts averaged about 8 or 9 wrong part loads to each one we made – and we worked 5 PM to 5 AM when everyone is tired!

    anyway, one supervisor complained over and over about cleanliness. what else was the guy going to do getting crushed in productivity AND quality day after day, week after week and month after month? -lol-

    i objected for a while and then got back into AND mode. my shift now dominated in production AND quality AND cleanliness – once i decided to AND cleanliness i never received another complaint.

    the power of incorporating AND is extremely powerful.

    it doesn’t apply to each person (unless you work alone), rather, it applies to the total entity in question.

Get the latest in Entrepreneur, once a week, for free.