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Are You TOO Sensitive to Grow Your Business?

Are You TOO Sensitive to Grow Your Business?

I’ll admit it: I’m a reality TV fan. Specifically, I love small business oriented shows, like Dragon’s Den, the Shark Tank, and Crowd Rules. On occasion, I discuss the take-away lessons on my business’ blog.

It was a real shock to my system when I got a scathing reply to one of my posts from a show contestant. Even though my blog post had said nothing negative about her or her company, she was incensed that I discussed it at all. It was clear from her message that she was very hurt that anyone was less than 100% enthusiastic about her brand.

After setting aside my marvel that someone who thought this way would choose to appear on a reality TV show, I thought through what I’ve learned over the years I’ve run my company. Lessons come from all kinds of strange places. We have to be willing to view problems as opportunities. The fact that someone’s discussing your company online can be a problem – especially if the commentary isn’t favorable. But it can also be an opportunity, if you’re willing to engage and tell your side of the story.

The question is – are you tough enough to speak up?

Self Awareness is Key

As a business owner, you need to know your own strengths and weaknesses. Nobody’s great at everything, and it’s not at all unimaginable that the same person who’s fabulous at soliciting new business or project management may not be equally skilled at creating marketing messaging or handling customer (or public!) criticism.

One of the challenges that female entrepreneurs often face is that we feel like we should be great at everything. No matter what happens in our businesses, we need to be able to handle it. If that’s how you see the world, I’m not going to try to dissuade you from that viewpoint – but I will definitely suggest to you that the best way to develop the strengths you currently lack is off-stage, in a way that doesn’t directly impact your business.

Let’s say you know that responding to critiques and criticism isn’t your strong suit. You can educate yourself to remedy this situation. There are PR classes, seminars and workshops to attend; on Amazon right now, there are over 160,000 books on this very topic. Turn to your colleagues and mentors for advice; turn on the news and pay attention to how big brands handle the situation when the spotlight turns its harsh glare on them.

But do not- absolutely do not – use your customers, colleagues, and allies as lab rats while you work out your technique. Every point of engagement you have on behalf of your brand should come from a place of strength, where you’re actually good at what you’re doing.

What should you do in the meantime?

Delay & Delegate

When you’re in business, people are going to talk about you, and not everything they say is going to be complimentary. Even when you’re fully aware of this, there will be times that commentary – often from an unexpected corner – is so nasty and hurtful that it takes your breath away.

The emotional impact of criticism is real and can be devastating. The more sensitive you are, the worse this experience will be. I have seen this happen to my clients countless times. One manufacturer in particular was extremely hurt by the commentary that came from their established business partners in the wake of their decision to appear on the Home Shopping Network. As is typical, they wanted to respond immediately and in kind.

However, what might be very satisfying from an emotional perspective can be extremely damaging to your brand. As a business owner, you’ve got to be able to separate from what feels good right now from what’s best for your company in the long term.

The internet loves nothing more than a cat-fight. Social media creates a deceptive aura of intimacy; you may think that you’re responding to one nasty Facebook post or email, but it’s incredibly easy for the whole world to see the entire exchange. Delay your response to any critiques until you’re able to respond from a calm, centered, professional mindset.

Is it going to be impossible to reach a calm, centered, professional mindset? It’s okay, you know, if it is. We’re human beings, not robots who can shut our feelings on and off as the situation dictates. In those instances, take advantage of your self-awareness and delegate the task of responding to critiques and criticism to someone else. This could be someone in house, provided they’ve got the requisite emotional distance and communication skills, or you can bring in the professionals.

Be willing to think creatively: I know two creative professionals who act as each other’s spokeswoman when the need arises. Each one is very sensitive about their own operation, but can respond calmly and professionally on the behalf of someone else’s business.

Three Takeaways:
  1. People will talk about our businesses. Sometimes they won’t say nice things. We get to decide whether we see this as an opportunity or problem.
  2. Self-awareness matters. If you know you’re not good at handling criticism, develop a smart internal process to handle this business inevitability.
  3. Delay and delegation are two tools you can use to avoid PR disasters!
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Creative Director/Senior Designer

Tom DiGrazia

With over a decade and a half of professional design experience, Tom brings his knowledge of design principles and focus on user experience to every aspect of his contribution to TTG. Paying special attention to each client’s brand, personalized needs and individual interests, he strives to create compelling concepts utilizing intuitive and highly-refined design solutions. In addition to traditional and digital design work and oversight at TTG, Tom also boasts a wide portfolio of web development projects with the company, allowing him to stretch his CSS and HTML skills across multiple platforms and disciplines. He feels that being a designer in the digital landscape of websites, eCommerce solutions, email marketing platforms and social media, it is important to understand the code that goes into these areas as it assists his ability to tailor designs specifically targeted to achieve the best end result and further builds understanding and communication with backend development teams.

In his off hours, Tom is an avid pop culture enthusiast, staying up to date on the latest shows, films, comics and games. He can also typically be found taking part in a whole host of artistic activities that help him further stretch his creative legs. Regardless of the activity, Tom is always accompanied by his dog, Eli, and his cat, Tib.

Design, Photography, Illustration, Digital Imagery Manipulation, Wesbite Development

Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Lightroom, HTML/CSS, Wordpress


Courtney Dumont

As Senior Marketing Strategist & Analyst at Technology Therapy Group, Courtney is energized by the ability to flex both her left and right brain daily. Courtney discovered her passion for Marketing at Bryant University, where she spearheaded research on students’ perceptions of Social Media Marketing for her Honors Capstone Project. After graduating Bryant in 2012, she joined the Technology Therapy team, where she’s honed her skills in social media, search and social advertising, email marketing, SEO, and more.

Since joining the team, Courtney has created digital marketing strategies and managed campaigns for clients across the country, ranging from plastic surgery centers, to jewelry stores, to construction companies. With a cohesive, cross-channel approach and a focus on data-driven decision making, she has increased their leads by up to 217%. But Courtney doesn’t leave her zeal for social media at the office; she also runs a local foodie Instagram account with her husband to document their meals across Rhode Island and beyond. Check them out: @hoppilyfed.

Marketing Strategy, Data Analysis, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Social Media

Google Analytics, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Facebook Creator Studio, Instagram, Klaviyo, Mailchimp, Emma Mail, Google Data Studio, WordPress, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Microsoft Office