Are You A Perfectionist?

IRON Consulting GroupIf your hand is already in the air … and at the same time your head is down evaluating the sentence structure and looking for typos … the answer is obvious. Of course, that’s not the case for everyone, even though nearly everyone would agree that “getting it right” is a good thing.

But where does one draw the line these days between perfection and just getting it right? Is there a balance between the two, an over-and-under if you will—where the investment to achieve perfection matches the return-to-value of getting there?

Perfection is a topic on which everyone has some sort of opinion. So please feel free to share yours and I’ll include the results (anonymously) in an upcoming post. Click to share your opinion.

Here are my thoughts. And for the record, my hand was in the air when I started writing this post.

As a career marketeer, I have always viewed perfection(ism) as a strength. But since marketing is as much an art as it is a science, recognizing when perfection is achieved isn’t always as readily apparent as it is in other disciplines. So perhaps some comparisons are in order.

In Accounting, the books must always be kept in balance. You report everything on your tax forms and make certain all the numbers tally correctly. Auditors double check your books and the IRS double checks your tax returns. There is no such thing as “creative accounting.” Perfection is the norm. And you cannot take it back once it’s published.

In the Louvre Museum hangs the Mona Lisa, touted as one of the greatest and most valuable pieces of art. A work of perfection! But did Leonardo da Vinci know it was perfection when he put down his brush? Did he focus on the smile? Did he make certain the eyes followed every viewing angle? Would the portrait be as perfect with one, but not the other? Once the paint dried, the Mona Lisa (perfect or not) was out there forever.

So too is literally everything in every form of marketing. When printed brochures were more prevalent than websites, you made certain every photo was just right. You double checked every headline and sentence for grammar, spelling and consistency. Because once the brochure was printed, it was out there forever with no way to take it back. Your brand, your reputation, your ego hung in the balance.

With today’s electronic media, it’s easy to double back and fix mistakes, even though any mistake is going to be out there forever one way or another. Coupled with spell, grammar and auto-checkers, maybe the bar is just lower these days and perfection is now simply passé.

For my money, mistakes and typos are never cool (although at the speed of today’s communications, they happen readily and are often excused, but trust me on this one, they are always noticed and they are out there forever). I hope I don’t have any here 😉

Heck, even Google, a gorilla in electronic communications gets perfection—although they would call it “tuning”. Just look at how many tools they provide to test the success of AdWords, keyword, website pages, etc.

Tuning, tweaking, perfection … whatever you call it, I submit it has its place and it has a measurable value in science and in art. Whether it’s a tax refund, the Mona Lisa, a marketing campaign or otherwise … being a perfectionist is a good thing.

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