Marketers: Stop Chasing Perfection and Just Ship It

Devon-McDonald by

The concept of minimum viable product isn’t just for software developers. OpenView’s Devon McDonald explains how marketers can benefit from a “just ship it” mentality.

Startup marketers often fancy themselves as the creative branch of their growing company’s brand — the artists tasked with crafting the perfect message for the perfect customer at the perfect time. The result of that sometimes-misguided sense of purpose is that marketers (and, at times, the expansion-stage companies they work for) generally become obsessed with the mirage of perfection.

The Mirage of Perfection

When you’re at a growth-stage company, they last thing you can afford to do is waste weeks, months chasing a mirage. And yet that is exactly what too many marketing manager succumb to — investing time and resources into developing what they think will be the perfect lead generation strategy, nurturing track, or social media approach. They tweak and tinker then tinker some more — all without ever actually releasing and implementing so they can get real data back on whether they actually work.

If you’re perpetually focused on being perfect, you’ll never get things done fast enough to drive scale. — Tweet this quote.

The reality is that nothing you ever do — whether you’re a content marketer, business development rep, social media strategist, or CMO — will ever be perfect the first time around. Here’s how it really works: the second, third, and fourth iterations of your ideas deliver incrementally more value over the versions before it.

With that in mind, you need to ditch this concept of striving for perfection and embrace an opposite approach, instead. You need to take a page from lean software development and focus on releasing minimum viable products (MVP).

The Importance of Minimum Viable Product in Marketing

The core idea behind minimum viable product is to build something that meets the bare minimum requirements for releasing. As soon as you have that — for developers it could be a feature, for marketers it could be a campaign, etc. — you let it fly. The goal is to get feedback and data you can act and iterate on as quickly as possible.

After all, you have to start somewhere, and you might as well find out sooner rather than later whether you’re actually heading in the right direction.

Unfortunately, too many marketers fail to view their role this way. In fact, many expansion-stage marketers are petrified by the fear of failure. They worry that if they execute the wrong lead generation tactic, publish the wrong content, or implement the wrong nurturing track, that their — and their company’s — reputation will be irreparably damaged.

The truth, however, is that inaction is often much more damaging than failure.

Mistakes are Acceptable — As Long as They’re Made with a Purpose

If want to have any hope of succeeding in today’s fast-paced, analytics-driven marketing world you have to be willing to make mistakes. There’s no getting around it — you need to experiment and you need to fail (quickly). Above all, you need to be okay with all of that. Remember, as long as you learn something from those mistakes, experiments, and failure then the more lessons you accumulate the quicker you’ll arrive at success.

As I wrote in a post in April, one of the best things marketers can do is fail fast, gather actionable insight, and then iterate. No marketer likes to have egg on their face. But if you’re not failing, then you’re not executing fast enough, and you’re not learning valuable business lessons that can make your next program, campaign, or strategy that much better.

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Image courtesy of Louis Vest