perfectionism blog title image about marketing

Tips to Overcome Marketing Perfectionism

If you’re a digital marketer or have marketing responsibilities, you’ve surely felt the pressure at one point or another to be perfect at your job.

But it’s not that easy to achieve perfection, and not just in marketing, but in any realm.

Let’s dive into a quick example.

The Perfect Game

perfect baseball game

Sports Illustrated Cover: August 3, 2009

Major League Baseball (MLB) has been around for over 140 years and they have played over 210,000 games. That’s a lot of opportunity for “Perfect Games” are defined by a professional baseball pitcher lasting nine innings and allowing no runners on base, whether it be from hits or walks.

Doesn’t seem that hard, right? There has certainly been no shortage of opportunities.

Well, there have only been 23 perfect games pitched over all that time, and no pitcher has ever thrown over one. That means that 0.01095% of games have been “perfect” according to baseball standards - not a groundbreaking amount.

That’s not to say only 23 pitchers have had successful baseball careers. Some players who threw perfect games aren’t even thought of as great pitchers, and some of the greatest pitchers don’t even have perfect games on their resumes.

Numbers don’t lie, and it makes little sense for these athletes to put their constant focus around being perfect. So as online marketers why do we seek perfectionism in our marketing?

Enough about America’s pastime, it’s time to tie this concept back into the digital marketing profession, as most of us aren’t getting paid millions to throw a ball 100 miles an hour at other men swinging wooden bats.

First, we need to better understand it truly defines what perfection is. Then throughout the rest of this article, we’ll hit on some key points on both the perils and positives of perfection in marketing.

What is perfectionism?

According to Dictionary.com, perfectionism is a personal standard, attitude, or philosophy that demands perfection and rejects anything less.

And what is perfection? It means doing something a task excellently or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement. Being perfect means that failure is never an option, and you might be afraid of it.

Now we have that out of the way, let’s look at the three primary types of perfectionism, and touch on how they cause marketing problems.

Self-Oriented

When you are highly critical of yourself. These people set high standards in all aspects of their lives so they can accomplish their personal goals, but don’t rely on others for a push. They are very organized and structure, but can also struggle with insecurities and indecisiveness.

Although these types of perfectionists are flawed, as we all are, they include some of the most successful marketing minds our world has seen.

Other-Oriented

When you are highly critical of others, or vice versa. This perfectionist may have a hard time building productive work relationships if they are too busy knit picking and pointing out the defects of others.

If you let external expectations of perfection to get in your head that can have negative impacts on your productivity and functionality.

Socially Prescribed

When you think society expects you to be flawless (if they really do), social pressures follow.

In our world, many of these pressures we create by unrealistic expectations and body images that social influencers have instilled in their fans. The illusion of perfection if you will. This concept leads to many marketing problems, not to mention on self-esteem.

Perfection Pressures:

Just like a pipe with too much pressure, our pressure to offer perfect marketing services builds, and eventually will burst. And by then, it’s too late.

We’ve talked about the three types of perfectionism, now it’s time to go into detail on some pressures that lead to perfectionist tendencies.

Background/Upbringing

They say you are a product of your environment, and while as we age that becomes less and less of a viable excuse, there is a merit to it.

If you grew up with parents or family members who constantly pushed you beyond the point of just giving your best effort and instead expected perfect results that may impact how you approach tasks in your adult life.

Especially if there were negative consequences for imperfections that can have a lingering psychological impact drips into your day to day and work life.

Competitive Work Environment

Similar to your background and upbringing, you might have become a product of your work environment.

Particularly if you work for a digital marketing agency or hold a role in this field, your boss or clients may always expect impeccable output and nitpick your work, which may put added pressures on you that hinder your production. Perfectionism can literally kill creativity.  

On the flip side, if you have other coworkers and colleagues are attempting to run a perfect marketing campaign, and you see them both successful rewarded for it, that may push you to strive for that.

It’s never a bad thing to reach for better results, but when it limits your output and impacts your ability to get things done, that’s when it’s become a serious issue and is difficult to overcome.

Pride and Personality

Many digital experts are their own toughest critic, which can just as easily be a blessing in disguise or a curse. They want no one to catch a minor grammar error in an email or on a social media post.

None of us want that, but sometimes you need to set your pride aside and get the task at hand complete. Move on to the next item on your list and don’t look back.

Fear of Failure

This is big. Too many of us are so afraid to fail that we use our perfectionism as a crutch when work isn’t complete.

This is where the difference between good and good enough to come into play, and can become a problem with time-sensitive tasks, such as getting a blog posted about a current event or launching a new website site.

If you’re so caught up on making sure the email, project, or post is flawless, you might miss your opportunity to get it out to your audience timely, which can cause trust issues, and fans will drop off.

Negative Impacts on Productivity:

Hard to start (and stop) projects

Let’s touch on a few perfectionists marketing problem examples. Being a perfectionist will add more work to your marketing projects. You’ll check your work over and over to make sure there are no errors, to a fault.

I will not sit here and say you shouldn’t check your work thoroughly before publishing or completing something as I have made many errors in my day from not doing so, but there needs to be a strategy.

Can you relate to this?

After checking and checking, someone points out there is a spelling error. Then you wonder, how did I miss this minor detail? It is because you become blind to your own work.

You shouldn’t just be checking over and over in no particular order. This over thinking can also lead to you missing out on things you would normally pick up on.

This is common for professionals who have made errors in the past that have received a negative reaction to them. When that occurs, it becomes difficult to block out from your mind and move forward.

Prevents you from doing your best work

When you’re having a hard time both starting and stopping, you’re not putting out your best product. Some work takes hyper-focus, and it’s been said it takes up to 25 minutes to get back on track with a task after you have been distracted.

If you’re constantly going back to rework what already should be complete, or it freezes you in place and to get yourself to begin, your quality of work will suffer. You’re stretching yourself too thin and losing sight of the original marketing objective.

Hurts team dynamics

This point lines up pretty well with the competitive work environment discussion we had above. If you are constantly being pushed to be unrealistically excellent, or you are the one pushing others, that can cause tension in the work environment.

Perfectionists also don’t like change. They may always think they have the best strategy and are not willing to try others' ideas, when some of these ideas may help them achieve the unblemished results they so strongly desire.

If you are a perfectionist, and somebody criticizes your written content or a project, it can have a negative impact on your self-esteem and your attitude towards the rest of the team.

Both situations can lead to the pipe we also talked about earlier bursting and the result is a toxic work environment.

Or if you’re lucky, it may turn into a diamond and you thrive from it. Everyone is different.

Drives you nuts

marketing campaign image

There is no such thing as a perfect digital marketer. The stress from always wanting to be without fault, and not doing so, will drive you crazy. It causes you to over-think situations and leads to self-doubt.

Positive Impacts of Perfection

In this article, I have more or less demonized perfection, but striving for improved results is not a bad thing.

Here are a few positive benefits of perfection

Have high standards for yourself and others

Nobody will ever accuse you of not caring about your job, whether it’s your clients, family or colleagues. Perfectionists always put their blood, sweat and tears into the work they put out, and it shows.

Attention to detail

As a marketing perfectionist, you will always put out a polished final project. You may be better at catching errors in your own work and others and require less future rework.

Not everyone has these abilities and it can’t always be taught, so it’s important to leverage in a way that is beneficial.

Streamlined and organized work processes

Perfectionists keep things organized, and while their organizational structure may not translate easily to other colleagues, chances are it keeps them themselves on track.

Whether it's a tool, checklist, naming conventions, perfect marketing managers develop their own workflows and improve efficiency.

Admiration of others

If you’re consistently going above and beyond to put out a high-quality product, that allows for others you work with to have confidence in your ability to get a job done, which leads to raises and career growth.

It may also make them envious of your accomplishments, and push them to strive to make themselves better, which can be beneficial for the growth of the team or organization.

Overcome marketing perfectionism and get more done

Start small and take things one step at a time

I know it sounds odd, but when starting on a task don’t always focus on the bigger picture. That will get you stressing about all the different details and your mind racing in a million different directions about things you’ll never be able to get perfect at first glance.

Start with some small, actionable steps to get a flow and trust that the rest will come as you progress. Trust the process and the tools at your disposal.

Put yourself in other’s shoes

Consider how your perfection impacts others. Whether you’re the one pushing others to be perfect, or others are putting unrealistic expectations on your own shoulders, having a good understanding of how the other party is feeling can go a long way.

Also keep in mind that if you’re always trying to be perfect, but it causes you to miss deadlines or not complete projects, that can impact other's perceptions of you. You may think what you are doing is making the work perfect, but really it’s causing tension and you’re losing their faith.

If everyone understands how they are making each other feel, it helps you avoid future conflict stemming from perfectionist problems.

Celebrate achievements/accomplishments

Sometimes it’s ok to celebrate when things go well. That doesn’t mean every time you send out a perfect Tweet you stand on your desk and dance. But you can reward yourself for your marketing success from time to time.

Especially on things you’ve messed up in the past, that you now learned from and did correctly, those deserve a pat on the back.

If you’re just stressing about being perfect but not reaping any rewards when you are, what are we working for?

Be confident, be shameless

Ok, so here’s a shout out for a one of our clients of ours, Shameless Inc, but I think their message can resonate with everyone.

Shameless is a body positive women's lingerie brand and encourages women to literally “Be Shameless” with their bodies to reshape society's definition of beauty.

If digital marketers along with everyone in all walks of life would adopt the confidence of Shameless and its message to the market, the world would be, dare I say it, a perfect place.

Find a balance

Not every square can be a perfect square. There are many types - some are tall, some are wide, some are rectangular. There are also rhombus’, trapezoids, and parallelograms, none of which are perfect, but are all functional squares by definition. They’re also more quirky than basic squares.

Now that this final section has “taken shape”, focus on finding a balance in your work. Strive to do a great job, but don’t let the pressures hinder you do the point where productivity and quality suffers.

A perfect conclusion:

Do you know how many times we edited this article? A lot.

Can we continue to edit this article? Definitely.

Is it perfect? By no means.

But, the message in this content is what we wanted to communicate to you. Good enough is better than good. Productive is better than perfect. Focus on progress, not perfection.

Let go of your perfectionist tendencies and get your work done!


Don't Let Your Business Fall Into The Wrong Hands

Don't Let Your Business Fall Into the Wrong Hands

Don’t Let Your Business Fall Into the Wrong Hands

You've Been Hurt Before

Don't Let Your Business Fall Into the Wrong Hands

Recently, we met with a client whose branding and website we are now developing. As part of our assessment process we reviewed the history of her business, how it had evolved and where it had become stagnant. We discovered that she had worked with other companies before. Apparently, she left her business in the hands of a developer who did not understand her needs. When we uncover this sort of thing there is usually some reasoning that made some sort of sense at the time. Maybe it was someone’s relative, or a friend owed her a favor. Maybe the concept of an internet presence was so out of her comfort zone that she was easily swayed into believing that only a web expert could help her. Whatever the reason, our client ended up using a developer who wasn’t aware of what she wanted to accomplish.

Putting your business in its entirety into the hands of a web developer would be akin to leaving your business under the control of the builder who constructed your office space. Our client needed a web professional, but she also needed her brand and her product to have the right story, the right treatment that would introduce it to the world. If you aren’t going to work closely with your developer, to create the ideal space for your business to function in, then someone you trust should do it. If your developer isn’t interested in any sort of tailor-made environment for your business, you should take a long hard look at your budget and your goals and then find another developer.

When marketing and design come together, wonderful things can happen.

Your Business Is Unique

Don't Let Your Business Fall Into the Wrong Hands

Over the course of the past four years she had worked with multiple providers to create and evolve her branding and she was very disappointed with her end results. She was so dissatisfied with what she had, that she was actually embarrassed to promote her business and crippled to move forward.
Working with generalist providers made it difficult for her to make progress. There was no tangible process and no measures taken to help her reveal the goals she wanted to reach. Without a deep understanding of her product and business, no objectives were ever determined, and consequently none were to be realized. She went through the process of outsourcing many trivial creative projects. She ended up with lesser components and no comprehensive way to sew it all together. With unsatisfactory deliverables and no roadmap in hand she found her way to us, and prepared herself to start all over again.

We’ve witnessed this pattern repeat itself time and again over the years: generalist firms selling template solutions for complex problems. It had become apparent to us some time ago that this could have the potential to become a very real problem for a great many people. We’ve witnessed these providers repeatedly treat symptoms with no attempt to diagnose the deeply rooted issues festering below the surface. Without having a deep knowledge of the intimate space it would be impossible to know the best way to solve industry specific problems.

With only providers that lack the unique expertise, specific to your industry, there is definitely something missing from the equation. From what we’ve seen, the likelihood of successful outcomes has been predictably low in cases where the client uses only a generalist firm. Unfortunately, that is the space the majority of our clients are in when we meet them. They have been failed by other companies that are unable to see the big picture. They are not used to working with a company that cares about their brand or a provider that understands their industry. Companies should get involved and become informed about the product or service that they intend to represent. Firms should understand the consumer they plan to sell to, and value the ideals of their clients.

Many companies are only capable of building a website or designing a logo and they do not address what ties it all together. That is what they know and that is what they sell. We work differently. We go far beyond mar-comm and creative services. We dive deeply into every aspect of the business to discover your unique obstacles and offer clarity and guidance toward the ideal results you want to achieve. You know what you want for your business. Select a partner who understands your needs and can help you realize your goals.