To ring in the New Year, I penned a blog post about Captain Perfection, the hard-working and high-expectation-bearing alter ego of the marketing persona. It’s been a while since we’ve spoken about our dear friend, and I thought it poignant, as we look to close out the year, to remind ourselves how to keep Captain Perfection in check. Here are five things to keep in mind, Captain:
1. Nothing is ever perfect in marketing. There is always room for improvement, and as the saying goes, “done is better than perfect.” Don’t get wrapped around the axle trying to make your work impeccable and focus on the hierarchy of what’s really important:
A. Typos You simply cannot have formatting issues, grammatical/punctuation errors and typos. Ever. Period. Everyone on the marketing staff who touches anything that leaves your four walls should be 100% on the lookout for these at all times. Select a style guide and follow it with consistency in everything you do.
B. Targeting Your messaging should always be targeted to the audience. Having said that, it is a difficult undertaking to nail down ideal messaging for every audience. However, as it relates to your marketing efforts, perfect the tone. When your messaging is wrong, you will see it reflected in the response rates. Start with tone, adjust your positioning along the way, and you will be okay.
C. Design Though we’re all working at a million miles an hour, deliverables can always look professional. Clean lines and uncluttered content should take precedence over slick. Sure, we’d all love to have everything be responsive gorgeousness, but when you are in the building mode for this, folks, focus on clean and neat.
If A, B and C can be addressed, your marketing will be fundamentally solid and even better than some of what’s out there. Get this foundation in place and then rocket toward perfection.
2. Even Captain Perfection is wrong sometimes. Let’s face it, we are all painfully gorgeous and exceptionally brilliant, but we are not always right (but don’t tell my husband that). When you put several Captain Perfections in a room and there is disagreement, then someone is definitely wrong. And guess what? Sometimes it will be you. And… that’s ok. Have the humility to admit it and then move on.
3. Feedback is good. Formidable. Strong. Smart. Tough. Fabulous. Marketer. Why are we afraid to give each other feedback? Silly was not on that list; Captain Perfection is not silly (ok, well maybe sometimes.) Feedback makes us all better. Fear of giving feedback makes us wimps and fear of getting feedback makes us obsolete. Open yourself to receiving feedback and learn how to give feedback constructively.
4. Listen to others. Everyone has a different perspective and while you can’t all be right all of the time, I’m willing to bet there is a thread of useful knowledge to be had by hearing each other out. Respect that. Your team members likely have a mixture of talents, core strengths, experiences and specialties. If they can get in the habit of explaining the “why” behind the “what” to each other, everyone will likely learn something new. And, if you respectfully disagree, that’s ok too, as long as you listen to each other. Listening goes a long way in building teams.
5. Don’t stop! To be effective, marketers must make incredible progress in an ever-changing landscape. Don’t let fear of being wrong or inability to agree impede that progress. In almost all cases, anything you choose will be better than how it is done (or not) today simply because you have the insight and gut feelings as to why it needs changing.
As you continue to charge into Q4 and finalize your plans for world domination in 2015, keep the faith that your skills are solid. I hope you can keep these five reminders handy and don’t let Captain Perfection take over! Overall, seek to focus on incremental gain rather than to drive each initiative to a state of perfection and nirvana. Read my post “I Am Not a Track Star” for my thoughts on how to get out of your own way.