Marketing: Perfection is Dead

    April 24, 2007

I’ve spoken ad nauseum about how we have to stop obsessing about carefully, slowly, deciding the exact right way to do our marketing. It’s comforting to believe that you have it right, but it’s an unattainable dream—you never have it right. I like to say you should "do it wrong quickly," and it was gratifying to see Web metrics expert Avinash Kaushik blog about this same subject as an excerpt from his upcoming book.

Avinash is right on when he says that perfection is dead. He talks about how there are no perfect metrics, which I’ve talked about previously, also. I think that some metrics experts are hung up on perfect measurements and we’ve tried to be more precise at the expense of unifying metrics so that people understand how to make decisions from them.

But I think perfection is dead in an even bigger way. Our relentless pursuit of the perfect Web page, the perfect call to action, or the perfect e-mail campaign is totally misguided. When we launch any marketing campaign, any Web redesign, or any kind of marketing message, that’s not the end. It’s the beginning.

That’s when we start measuring what is happening, not to prove ourselves right, but to find out how wrong we are. If you have convinced everyone that this is the perfect campaign, you almost can’t find out how it worked. You need to gather metrics only to prove that it really was perfect. You can’t honestly see what is wrong so you can fix it.

Instead, you must look at the first day of your campaign as the real start. You must test who is responding and how they are respnding—is it better or worse than you expected? Now is the time to roll out Plan B and Plan C to vary what you are doing to see if you can increase response. This is the real secret of interactive marketing—instead of seeking perfection, keep doing something different so it works better and better.