Check Yourself And Practice What You Preach


How many times have you given a piece of advice to a friend, to then not follow it yourself when the time comes?

I don’t have enough fingers and toes to add those occasions up, and I’m going to be bold and say that the same could be said for most people. The fact is, it’s very easy to give advice in hindsight or from an objective viewpoint, but when you’re in the ‘here and now’ or heavily involved in something it’s a completely different matter. It’s almost as though we’re blind to our own reasoning and common sense.

We’re All Hypocrites

The fact is, we’re all hypocrites to some degree, not one of us is perfect. I’ve done things that are so completely out of line with my morals and views it has shocked me, and I’ve made decisions that feel like they were made by a completely different person. When this happens you get that uneasy feeling, like everything in your mind is misaligned…that’s a psychological phenomenon known as Cognitive Dissonance.

It’s the stress you experience when you realise you hold two contradictory beliefs or values, or have done something against what you believe. It’s your mind trying to make sense of what you’ve done justify your actions to make yourself feel easier and balance out the uneasiness. I’ve had it this week.

Being self-aware and accepting that you don’t always follow your own rules and morals is healthy. When you feel that cognitive dissonance discomfort and try to justify what you’ve done, or not done, you have a choice. You can make excuses or you can take stock of the situation and hold yourself accountable. If you choose the latter and acknowledge the problem, you’re taking steps to stop it happening again and you’re learning from your mistakes. I believe it’s a crucial part of having a growth mindset.

I’m going to bring this back to business now before I start incriminating myself or ruin any friendships, but the idea is the same.

Over the years as a marketing consultant, I’ve given loads of great advice to clients, and it’s worked. I’ve leveraged years in the industry and a masters degree in Marketing to provide the best advice and solutions for people. That has continued as the business has grown and the team has expanded to create the boutique marketing agency we now operate here in Preston. But do I always follow it?

In short, no.


I’m passionate about the work we do for our clients and the results we create, but being caught in the ‘here and now’ of those campaigns has meant that my own business has suffered and we’ve not done some of the basic things that we advise and execute for our customers, and that bothers me.

We manage many social media channels on behalf of our clients and promote the benefit of regular posting of quality content, but if you were to look at our own Facebook Page for example, you will notice that we went through most of January without a post. Now that could partly to be with a great festive period and the extremely long hangovers I’m cursed with these days, but it’s not aligned with what we believe and what we advise.

Google Reviews….we generate thousands of reviews on Google, Trustpilot and Tripadvisor for clients, but our own reviews are limited, to say the least. The important thing is they’re all five-star reviews, but still…we should be practising what we preach and provide to our clients.

It’s About Trust

It’s more than just having a growth mindset and feeling good about the things we do though…it comes down to authority and leading by example. How can our clients have trust that we will provide the results they need if we aren’t demonstrating them ourselves? Anyone can share marketing advice, it’s easily found on the Internet, but are they actually able to execute it and are they practising it themselves? It’s about the proof in the pudding, and leading by example…something I have always prided myself on.

A few weeks ago I conducted a competitor analysis for a client and identified some issues with their Google My Business listing. Living by our core values I thought I would hold myself accountable and check our own with the same competitor analysis framework. To my dismay, it had our Manchester phone number, old images and other wrong information. The cognitive dissonance kicked in, I tried to internally justify why it hadn’t been updated and started to look for people to blame, but I checked myself and remembered that the buck always stops with me…and in fact, it’s my job to sort it anyway. I fixed it there and then, and in doing so have seen a marked improvement.

The fact is, we are never going to fully live by the advice or morals that we think that we abide by. Life is complicated, so is business. We get carried away with the day-to-day and forget some of the foundations of who we are or what we do. The important thing is understanding that this happens and acknowledging it when it does so that you reduce the chances of it happening again or mitigate its effects.

Taking Action

I now dedicate one day per month to checking everything we do…from going through our subscriptions to auditing our website and checking our Facebook Page is up to date. The ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign goes on the door, the blinds go down and my email alerts are turned off. That’s my excuse anyway, my Internet history might tell a different story. I joke. I go through it all, and I always find something that needs changing or could be improved.

What I’m trying to get at is, if you don’t practice what you preach and hold yourself to account…how will your customers trust that you’re as good as you say you are? How can you do a good job for them when you can’t do it for yourself? Take the time to step back and look at your own business, hold it to the same scrutiny as you would a competitor or customer and make the necessary changes. Do it regularly.

Practising What I Preach – My Promise to You

I’m going to practice what I preach in this very blog and make some public commitments that I/we as a team can be held accountable for:

At the time of writing, we have five 5* Google reviews. By the end of March 2020, we will have increased that to a total of fifteen genuine 5* reviews.

We will have posted at least 3 times per week on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, without sacrificing quality.

I’ve been wanting to run a marathon for years, I will have booked on a full marathon for some time in 2020 by the end of February.

Feel free to hold me to account and pull me/us up if we don’t.

Contact us:

Jack Barron, Director

Jack is passionate about marketing and helping small to medium-sized businesses thrive. As Director of Invoke Media, he is responsible for overseeing the planning and implementation of every campaign, getting stuck into the execution of successful at every opportunity.

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