I learned a skill as a journalist which has been invaluable to me as a marketer. As a journalist, I was an expert at knowing when to let go of a piece of content and send it out into space, even though it may be imperfect.
It’s the nature of the news business. You have a deadline and when the deadline arrives, you go to air or to print with as much information as you have. Sometimes a little information is better than none, and you rest in the knowledge that you can revisit the story later to add new details and give it more meat.
One of the hardest things I’ve had to adjust to as a marketer is the constant reshaping of promotional messages and campaigns to try to achieve perfection. Each article or email goes through several rounds of review by several departments.
All the scrutiny has its advantages. Many eyes looking over a piece of material allows for mistakes and problems to be caught before they leave the library. It gives the marketing department a chance to see how their message will be perceived by different people with different perspectives.
But there are also pitfalls. The message can be reshaped by people with less experience in marketing, people who wish to add words or phrases that aren’t customer-friendly, that contain too much “library speak”. The message can be diluted by departments with a personal agenda. There comes a point at which all the scrutiny becomes crippling. People start over thinking words and images and your message never reaches its intended audience because it disappears in the quicksand of the search for perfection.
The best content isn’t perfect. That is what makes it good. Imperfection makes it human. When you write from the heart without analyzing every word and phrase, your message feels more authentic. Don’t sabotage your own marketing efforts by waiting for the moment when every single detail is right. I give you permission to move forward. And because the piece of content belongs to you, it will be up to you to defend its release, even when others don’t think it’s perfect enough. There are three points on which you can rest your argument for release.
1. Is your message moving your strategy forward?
2. Is your message compelling?
3. Does the message have proper grammar and punctuation?
If the answer is yet to these three questions, it’s time to let go.
Marketing is one giant experiment, really. Even when you release a piece of content that isn’t perfect, you will still learn plenty from it and you’ll be able to adjust and reconfigure your attempts on the next go-around.
Don’t get bogged down in the quest for perfection. Be human. Be authentic. Be true to your library voice. And just get the message out there! Your imperfect message may lead to some perfect insight into your customers. A real conversation between a library and its cardholders is never a bad thing!
Do you have an example of a time when an imperfect message brought you some perfect insight into your customers? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.