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, 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.


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.


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.


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!

Is your website forcing too much content on your users?


Figuratively speaking.

Before you get too excited, these meatballs are metaphorical. Imagine for a moment, you and your plus one spot a quaint little restaurant as you stroll down the block. Curious, you pause to learn more about it. “Meatballs”, someone shouts at you! “Caesar salad, vegetable soup, branzino!” You haven’t even gotten through the door and looked around before the host is shouting menu items at you. What’s the likely response you’d give? You might be confused, mildly amused or suspicious. If you were really hungry you might ask for details, such as a table for two or if the meatballs come on a plate. Probably, you weren’t going to reach for your wallet and hold out your hand for a meatball.

This scenario is exactly what we’re seeing on a lot of websites. We arrive on the page and wonder what it is the company actually does. As we look for some simple and direct explanation of their primary purpose, we see lists of problems to solve, icons of services provided and menus filled with industry-specific needs. Strange as this may sound to website owners (and developers), these services don’t necessarily tell visitors what the company is about.

We’ve all heard the term User Experience or seen the shorthand (UX). I think there’s even a college degree in UX now. However, what does this really mean? For most, this is customer service. In essence, it is a little more than that. Much more, if you consider customer service as merely fixing problems, answering questions and taking sales orders. Experience with a capital X is the key element here. Walking away from that little restaurant, purchase or no purchase, what would you remember about the brand? The little Italian-style plaque beside the door or the smell of freshly baked bread? The checkered tablecloth or the waiter’s flour-stained apron, maybe? I’d wager you’d remember the screaming host yelling in your face about meatballs and how surprised and awkward you felt. Given enough time, you may forget about the actual behavior, and simply associate the restaurant with that awkward feeling. This is probably not the most conducive to being re-engaged, even if you find yourself nearby and hungry once more.

Keeping up with consistency.

Perception is another thing entirely, and shouldn’t be ignored when it comes to cohesion. For this, you should strive to understand and embrace your customer’s perception of your brand. If you sell swimwear, for example, your brand perception is likely to include warm weather, beaches, sun tans and sexiness. A dark blue background split by a white-hot lightning bolt over the words, electric swimwear, might be executed with beautiful artwork – but its design is noticeably lacking. Your product, packaging, brand and overall message should be consistent with brand perception as well.

If your brand is spread out over many products, concepts or services, it might be hard to establish a cohesive message. Consider creating individual brands or collections that each carry a cohesive messaging related to their product, appearance and perception. Creating a style guide is a great way to help organize your branding and brand assets and provides a good visual representation of your umbrella brand. A style guide also formalizes how those assets can be used to provide consistency. With or without a style guide, before designing a large offering, consider how each segment might or might not fit into any existing brands or if any new brands are needed. Of course, you can always outsource such an assignment ;-)The user’s experience is important for a few reasons, not just to get them to make a purchase or call your salesman. This interaction with your brand might mean a lasting impression and the difference between someone who’ll tell others about you and someone who might avoid your business in the future. A memorable and positive experience can yield repeat business, larger orders, brand ambassadors and quicker sales. Visitors to your site might be checking out your brand before they stop by in person or after they met your salesman. Maybe they’re comparing you to a competitor. Even if these visitors aren’t looking to make a purchase right now, their experience will directly affect your success.

Take a look at your own website, or as you think about having one built for you, consider what a potential customer might think of it. It might go without saying, but we’re saying it anyway, put yourself in your customer’s shoes. You, your employees, your friends or your family may not be your target audience. Even if they are, they may not represent your average audience member. Consider what a potential customer might think when they first arrive on your website. Perhaps they aren’t experts in the industry (maybe they should be, or they only work for someone who is). The first thing a visitor expects to see is some indication of what the website owner does. Not lists of services you provide, they want to know how you can help them, even if they don’t understand how you do what you do. A bold elevator pitch, mission statement or straightforward claim is the website version of a welcoming handshake and introduction. If your industry is technical, but your clients aren’t necessarily experts, this concept is even more important. Perhaps your target client is a business that might purchase your technical service. Are you designing the experience for the decision maker who might agree to hire your company or the technician who will be working with your product or service? Remember to include them both in your design, at the appropriate page. Industry experts might skip over your homepage looking for those service lists, while other types of customers might want to read the very first words on your website to get a sense of who you are. All the clever service names, reassuring icons and industry jargon can wait till later. First, tell them they are in the right place. Tell them you have a nice table for two by the window and when they settle in and have a moment to look around, you can offer to read them the specials and tell them about your meatballs.

What can the medical industry from the twentieth century teach us about social media

What can the medical industry from the twentieth century teach us about social media

If I told you that social media marketing is taking the same direction as the medical industry did during the early 1900s, would you believe me? Before we dive deep into this analogy, I’d like to give you a brief history of the medical practice and education industry.

During the turn of the twentieth century, the medical industry in America was pretty much unregulated. People were preaching untested and unproven cures, with financial success being their main motivation.

"Here, have a glass of radium water; it will cure your arthritis and impotence."

Source: Oak Ridge Associated Universities

It is crazy to imagine that people actually paid for this product, but people believed that it helped. Clearly, today we have natural and proven prescription drugs to help.

Of course there were lots of outstanding doctors and scientists, but they were more focused on their research and building the foundations of modern medicine. However, there were lots of “doctors” diagnosing people to drink radium water, because there was no license required.

So, what made the industry shift away from these radical practices? In 1910, Abraham Flexner—who was notably a teacher, not a doctor—surveyed the American medical education landscape and published his report. This resulted in the closing of at least one-third of the existing medical schools—mostly for-profit schools. This helped bring about formal licensing for doctors, and lay the scientific foundations for the medical industry.

Fast forward to today and digital marketing

Let’s relate this to today’s digital marketing, specifically in the social media landscape. What makes someone a social media expert? Because I understand technology and I am extremely photogenic, can I run your company’s social media profiles?

Let’s examine what is plaguing the marketing industry:

The Instant Social Media Marketing Agency

Background: I have an iPhone, a Macbook Pro, and managed a family friend’s company’s social media profile. This gives me instant credibility to manage more business profiles and start selling social media services.

Results: They produce great photo content, create posts using the same stock photos, edit photos using tools like Canva, and get you likes. You ask the question (or should ask), ”How much business does my social media generate?” It is pretty hard to provide evidence on your ROI, so most of the time you will get reports on “engagement,” “number of likes,” and “we are building your long-term profile.”

The Intern Farm Agency

Background: These agencies leverage their interns to help in the content production process. Most of the time, they hire interns for little to no pay.

Results: Companies will pay a hefty price tag for social media services from these agencies, which employ free labor. As above, they’ll report about engagements and likes and, “your long-term profile”.

Real Life Example: One of my clients requested that we transition from social media management to other digital marketing services, which was for the best interest for my client. We found a great intern to manage their profiles. Shortly thereafter, another agency pitched their services to this client at five times the current cost. We soon found out that this agency had hired the same intern, but this was a non-paid position.*

Thought Reversal - Medical Industry and Social Media

The Robot Agency

Background: These agencies are the ones which guarantee likes and followers. This sounds great and looks good on paper, but this is achieved by using automated bot services.

"This bot walked right into that one..."

Results: Your company will build fake followers, likes, and engagement. You may have more fans, but do they care about your business? Again, you have been trained to focus on likes and followers, not ROI.

Unregulated Influencers

Background: The influencer industry is one of those areas that is really difficult to understand and to scale. There is no formula for how much an influencer should cost; rather, it is simply what they want to charge.

Results: You spend an endless amount of time reviewing influencers. Some influencers will ask for thousands of dollars, while similar influencers will do it for free in exchange for products. My least favorite “influencer” is the one which uses bots to build fake followers. They post content on their profiles, you prepare for sales to come in and…no sales.

These are just some examples of what is plaguing the marketing industry. Even if you get over the hurdle of working with these agencies and influencers, you still have another challenge to deal with: Facebook. With all the negative press, their growth rate leveling out, and reduced organic reach, what is a business supposed to do? It really depends, but if you don’t know what to do, then do nothing. Let the dust settle and then re-enter the social media market. It is too chaotic and takes too much time to figure out.

That is probably not the answer you wanted to hear, so here is what we are doing:

The social media market needs to grow up and mature. Mark Traphagen (Stone Template) claims “that these changes are a good thing, because they will finally force social media marketers to grow up and act like REAL marketers, not hackers or tricksters.”

Take that concept and start focusing on marketing, not gaming the system. We strongly believe that if agencies and marketers don’t transition away from trick marketing tactics, they will find themselves forced out of this industry as companies start to focus on measuring their results. While industry cleanses itself, take that time and start focusing on boring, non-flashy marketing activities like search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing, post nurturing customers, or even try print media.

Let’s continue to use one of our clients as an example. We transitioned from heavy social media management to SEO and email marketing. We continue to advise and support my client for their social media needs, but it is mainly managed by an intern that is given direction. Now that we have focused on SEO and optimizing email marketing, sales are up 65% and organic search traffic increased about 40% within one month. When we have conversations with our client, they are able to see the ROI on their marketing dollars. Again, we are using data to make our marketing decisions; without the use of data, we are just guessing. Remember radium water? Imagine this: if we ignored the fact that people die from ingesting radium, we would still have salesmen pushing this product.

We understand that this may upset or contradict your beliefs. Are we saying social media marketers and influencers are con-artists? No, absolutely not. There are many social media marketers that are doing great campaigns for their clients, but there are just as many that are not. We feel that there is a strong disconnect between social media marketers and business objectives. When the barrier to entry is this easy (iPhone, laptop and a license to Hootsuite) and unregulated, you end up with people that enter this market to make a quick and easy dollar. If you have a full-stack marketing consultant, they will contact and notify you to pivot your marketing dollars away from social media. If they don’t, they just may not understand your business well enough. Hey, if you are measuring your social media success on likes and followers, then your social media team is doing the exact job you hired them for.

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.