overcome perfection paralysis

In marketing, the word “perfection” might conjure up images of running effortless campaigns and initiatives. Though, as we know, that’s not always the case. Marketing is sometimes imperfect. We face challenges and must forge ahead.

This begs the question, should marketers strive for perfection? Perfectionism can prevent you from getting off the ground because you’re waiting for an ideal state, which may or might not come before your deadline.

Being overly meticulous in today’s digital world can lead to perfection paralysis. In our quest to achieve the unachievable marketing state—exceeding every deadline, never making a mistake, and producing flawless campaigns—we can end up stalling projects. That’s why perfectionism is often synonymous with procrastination. The longer you wait, the faster you must rush to the finish line.

Perfection paralysis is not a new concept, but it’s one that is picking up speed in high profile roles like marketing. The word perfection paralysis sprung out of ‘analysis paralysis,’ which is the over-thinking of something to the point of inaction. Since this concept made its mark, people have been learning how to overcome it.

Like my fellow consultants at Marketo, I’ve brushed up against perfection paralysis many times. While developing best practices for our customers, I quickly realized that it would take longer than expected to launch a ‘perfect’ final product.

Some telltale signs of perfection paralysis are:

  • Setting overly high expectations
  • Rushing towards impossible deadlines
  • Internal criticism

By finding a balance between perfectionism and realistic goals, you can take a step towards overcoming perfection paralysis. Here are three tips for putting your best foot out there without suffering from perfection paralysis:

1. Focus on Being Great

There’s a difference between being perfect and being great. Perfection is sometimes unachievable, especially with the strict deadlines that marketers face. However, delighting and engaging your target audience on a consistent basis is achievable. A great marketing strategy takes time to formulate. Because it will be the sounding board for your current and future campaigns, you should take the time to do it well.

For example, at Marketo, one of our nurturing methods is called ‘wake the dead,’ where we reach out to valid leads who need a little extra love to re-engage. With the right marketing platform, you can pull a list or audience segment and develop a nurturing strategy that dictates when leads enter and exit the campaign, and what content they should see at each stage. Then, it’s about setting and communicating realistic expectations for your team. If you believe that a deadline is too ambitious, start by breaking down the tasks to map out a timeline. Follow-up and ask for extensions as needed. From there, the onus is on your team to collaborate.

During this process, consistent communication is essential for producing great work and staying away from perfection paralysis. By talking about the requirements upfront, your team will be able to determine a more realistic deadline and set feasible expectations for the final deliverable.

2. Create Templates and Clone Away

Every marketer strikes gold once in a while. It’s when a campaign speaks directly to your audience and hits all the key performance indicators your team wanted. But how do you replicate the results and set realistic expectations?

Marketers know all too well that even with a standard practice, sometimes there can be too many cooks in the kitchen. You might notice everyone does things a little differently. Each of your colleagues has their own ways of working, building, or developing. By creating user-tested templates, you can give everyone an even playing field while maintaining your brand standards. And by creating user roles and flexible permissions that admins can determine, you can still obtain a bird’s eye view of your activities on your marketing platform.

By standardizing your practices, you and your team can grow faster because you’ll learn the basics and then quickly advance. Creating email, landing page or program templates can help everyone put their best marketing foot forward, without worrying about missing the mark. Rather than meticulously building campaigns from scratch, you can focus on developing exceptional marketing campaigns.

To build a basic template, marketers need to first develop a few building blocks. This includes creating assets, such as emails, landing pages, and forms, and content and campaigns that will engage your audience. Don’t forget about measuring and optimizing your campaigns as you go along, and all the bells and whistles like web personalization and dynamic content.

3. Learn from Your Mistakes and Move On

Marketers can make mistakes. After all, we are human, and as I write this, I can almost hear a faint scream from my perfectionist friends. It’s tough for any marketer to acknowledge there are some aspects of marketing that are imperfect. However, it’s not the mistakes you make that define you, but how you can come back from them.

Perfection paralysis is the inability to move forward after a setback, like sending the wrong email. When perfectionists make mistakes, they’ll often stop and obsess over it—rather than acting fast to fix them. To overcome perfection paralysis, you need to look at the situation with a fresh perspective. Projects can get sticky, fast, so take a step back and then reevaluate.

A mistake is only an error if you do not learn and fix it. Most marketing blunders have a solution, so it’s vital to forge ahead and have a plan B. Hold yourself accountable for your mistake, find a solution, and move past it. Ultimately, your team and customers are counting on you to dig deep and find the answers.

In closing, marketers who are willing to push past perfection paralysis can beat it. Knowing the difference between “perfection” and achievable makes all the difference. It’s not always the perfectionists who rise above the competition, but the marketers who consistently produce great work, replicate it, and learn from their mistakes. So, keep perfection paralysis in its place, behind you, by ensuring you incorporate these three ways to move forward.

Have you ever succumbed to perfection paralysis? Share how you overcame it in the comments below!