Why would a local marketing company call another local marketing company asking them if they need help marketing their company? As ludicrous as that sounds it is exactly what has happened to me – three times in the past week.

My response to both was a polite no, explaining, “How would it look to my customers that my company cannot even successfully market itself?” Both callers were a little dumbfounded, saying they didn’t know that was what my firm did.

That brief exchange resulted in one certain outcome: I will never outsource or recommend those companies. If that is the level of their market research – blindly cold-calling area businesses without even the most rudimentary research on their business – their work would be shoddy at best. (And if one of those companies is reading blog post I invite you to prove me wrong.)

I have also received two emails from recent public relations or marketing graduates looking for a job. While I am humbled they would want to work with my team – and I embrace mentorship very seriously – our business model is clearly stated on our website: Every member of our team has a minimum of 20 years of public relations and marketing experience. That wealth of experience is what sets us apart from our competitors. I place greater value on the metric of experience over volume of employees. That won’t change. Ever.

Had either of those budding young professionals bothered to do some cursory research on our company by looking at our website that point would have been apparent. Again, it demonstrates a lack of research on their point – intellectual laziness if you will – and that is a sore point with me.

So here’s today’s lesson: Do your homework.

Carpenters have an old saying is, “measure twice, cut once.” In the communications world, it’s a little more involved than that. Communications is both a remarkably simple yet complex business. It requires some basic – sometimes complex – research if you want to: 1. Not look stupid; 2. Do right by your customers.

Work done in haste is generally sloppy. Not doing the proper diligence is a telltale sign of a youthful or inexperienced practitioner. They are bright and eager – so excited to jump into the fray – but often without doing their homework first.

I believe in the old-school thought that you only get one chance to make a first impression. Working in a line of business where impressions are so very important, it is inexcusable to screw up that first exposure.