Just because someone is an expert on one side of a marketing transaction doesn’t mean they have learned anything about being on the other side. Whether that person is the president of a startup or a consumer, I keep seeing examples of this. Let’s start with the consumer.

How many times have you seen a car on a front lawn or in a parking lot with the for sale sign and a phone number?

Presumably, the seller is an expert at being a buyer. They have spent a lifetime shopping, comparing products, researching products, checking consumer reports before buying, Googling their purchase with the product name and the word “problems” before buying, reading reviews on Amazon, or asking for a recommendation from someone they respect. In other words, a smart consumer making wise purchases.

Then they need to sell their car. Out it goes on the front lawn with the for sale sign and a phone number. Or worse.

Their expertise as a buyer has not translated into any expertise as a seller. Did they not notice that things that sell do not have for sale signs? They have prices on them. Did they not notice that products that sell have descriptions?

A price and a description are the very, very basics of marketing a product. Providing an image is the third leg of the stool. Price, description, image. Even on the modern front lawn – Craigslist – there are plenty of products for sale without prices, more without photos.

How is it that a lifetime of buying does not prepare people for a day of marketing?

Buying and marketing are two different skill sets. One is all about gathering data. The second is all about motivating people you haven’t met.

That brings me to the presidents of startups. Some are very good at marketing. Those that are obsessed with selling and marketing, – marketing fanatics – are great to work with.

Then there are those heads of companies that are engineers. They need professional marketing the most. Yet I still see ones who try to create it themselves and are reluctant to hire professional help. They are “selling their car” except the stakes are much larger, the consequences far reaching.

Besides an embarrassing creative product, they are not building their organic inbound marketing platform – think Hubspot – so that prospects can find them. Revenues will hit a threshold and linger there. Without new marketing input, it may be hard to break through to the next level.

If you need to sell a car, a service, a technical product or an intangible, remember that experience on one side of a transaction doesn’t make you an expert when you need to switch sides. Stick to your expertise and bring in specialists for the other areas, especially the marketing.