The Perils of Perfectionism in B2B Marketing

I just read an interesting blog post at BNET, titled, Perfectionism is a Disease, Here’s How to Beat It.  I liked the post because this is a pet peeve of mind and the subject mirrored a chapter in my book (How to Create an Unstoppable Marketing and Sales Machine) where I pointed out the dangers of perfectionism. 

Perfectionism is one of those issues where a person’s strongest quality can also be their most glaring weakness. Perfectionists often take their work and themselves too seriously, certainly far more seriously than their co-workers or prospects.  The drive to get it just right can bring projects and progress to a crawl.  It can also drive everyone around you crazy. 

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The other big problem I have with perfectionism is that it is so subjective.  One person’s perfect ad, marketing strategy, copy, website design or piece of collateral can be another’s yawner.  I once had a boss who liked to re-write all my promotional copy.  He would spend hours creating what he perceived to be the best possible message. The problem was, prospects weren’t buying his clever copy and response rates decreased.  Alas, being the perfectionist that he was, this didn’t slow him down a bit.

There are times when the goal of being perfect is a good thing: brain surgery and space travel come to mind.  You don’t want your brain surgeon or the guy who builds the rocket that take you to the moon to have a “what the heck” attitude.  But a lot of what we do in B2B marketing is blocking and tackling and it is usually more important to make a lot of good stuff happen instead of a little bit of perfect stuff.  

One caveat though. Don’t use my argument against perfectionism to justify sloppy or substandard work. There is never an excuse for poor quality.  However, if you have the perfectionist gene, do yourself and everyone around you a favor and heed the words of Voltaire: “The perfect is the enemy of the good.”


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Christopher Ryan

Christopher Ryan has 25 years of marketing, technology, revenue growth experience. As both a marketing executive and services provider, Chris has created and executed numerous programs that build market awareness, drive lead generation and increase revenue.
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3 comments

  • Gail Carson October 19, 2010   Reply →

    The pressure to be perfect is truly crippling. It has made the plastic surgeons and psychologists of today rich. Thanks Chris, for the refreshing support for the beauty in variety and in life’s lovely work in progress. Great blog!!

  • Marino Fadda October 19, 2010   Reply →

    It’s all true!
    Perfectionism is a bad illness for B2B marketers.

  • John Leavy October 21, 2010   Reply →

    Chris,

    Great post. Here’s a quote I came across last week…quite applicable seeing it’s football season. “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” – Vince Lombardi

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