We all know that perfectionism, while it has its merits, holds us back from making the progress in our business and in our lives that we truly want and need to make. Perfectionism in marketing is death. Death to progress and eventually to your business. I have to admit, not with any sense of pride mind you, but I have never had to worry about the negative effects of being a perfectionist. I have been a self-proclaimed slacker-mom, rusted trophy-wife, and a fly-by-the-seat of my pants entrepreneur. Always biting off more than I can chew and figuring out how to survive as I choked it down. Let’s just say, I have no shame in my game!
So I am not going to sit here and tell you how I overcame my struggle as a recovering perfectionist. But I am going to tell you that in my 22 years of being in business, helping people with their marketing, I have seen the carnage that perfection leaves in its path. I’m going to give you some facts that will help motivate you to let go a bit with your marketing and then 4 and ½ steps to help you recover, make more progress, and grow your business! Why the ½? Well it’s so perfectly IMPERFECT!
Let’s get a few things out so we can build your motivation for seeing the need to let go of the neat lines and perfect circles:
- Perfectionism kills creativity and can completely cripple your ability to get ideas out and move your business forward.
- Today’s pace is faster than ever. We can’t wait months to get a piece of content created. Many times, we need it in hours or days.
- Marketing is all about testing. Testing means you have to produce multiple products, videos, lead magnets, blog posts, etc. to… TEST. You have to release something to the world before you can truly know what your audience wants. Then you can make adjustments based on the feedback you get. If the only feedback you have is coming from your head, you might spend months on something and then release it to crickets! If it takes you MONTHS before you can get one item completed, the only thing you will test is your patience.
You may say you don’t want to put anything out unless it “looks professional” or is “professionally created.” There is absolutely nothing wrong with things looking professional if it can be done in a realistic time frame. There is nothing wrong with something being created by a professional, as long as they don’t cause said professional to age 12 years working with you because of all of your “small edits.” If you can’t get something out because you are waiting on the graphic designer to return the 87th version of a 2 page PDF, you need therapy…and now the poor graphic designer does too!
Video is one of the hottest marketing tools you have today and yet video is a big hurdle for many perfectionists because there are just so many areas where perfection is nearly impossible. You may want to wait to do videos until you have the perfect equipment. You will of course then need to put it off until you are at your perfect weight and have made an appointment with your hairdresser to get those highlights looking perfect. Then, of course you will need the perfect day when you got the perfect amount of sleep so you look…PERFECT. (I think this could be the beginning of a children’s book… If you give a perfectionist a project.) Let the real YOU shine through. Instead of trying to create a perfectly produced video of you sharing your expertise, imagine sitting across from a friend over coffee and sharing these nuggets of wisdom. Be THAT you on video. It is so much more enjoyable to watch and learn from someone who is REAL like the rest of us.
More motivation here:
- Overly produced videos do not do as well as raw footage of the real you when trying to build relationships with an online audience. When people see a very nice “commercial” of you and your product, they see you trying to sell them something. When they see you giving tips, information, or advice with nothing but you and the camera, you become more real and approachable…Even with bags under your eyes! Your imperfections create likability and build trust.
- Authenticity comes from showing your imperfections. We want to see the real you not the overly produced you. This doesn’t mean your videos have to be unprofessional, it just means they don’t have to be perfect. You may find after you record your video that a piece of your hair was sticking up like Alfalfa, the entire time. You may start a live broadcast a few minutes late because there were technical glitches. You may be recording a video and you forget something you were going to say next. You may be in the middle of a live video stream and your dog will bark…or all three of them will suddenly go NUTS…all hypothetical examples of course! This is REAL LIFE. What would happen if you were face-to-face with someone and these things happened? You would keep going.
Related: Why You Need a Lead Magnet
So let’s get to the 4 ½ steps to help you tousel your hair a bit and start producing more marketing content to build your business.
1. Get rid of “All or Nothing” thinking.
Remember, in marketing your goal is to produce regular content to TEST. You have to let go of the thinking that gets you stuck, or paralyzed. “If I can’t get more people connecting with our brand on social media, then I don’t want to put together the slides for the webinar we were supposed to do. And if I can’t do the slides, then there is no point for me to schedule a weekly Facebook live.” “If I can’t get the graphic artist to get this image just right, I don’t want to put out the blog post.” Put the blog post out with a regular image and you can always go in and swap it out later if you wanted. Aim for PROGRESS, not perfection. You need to TEST, TEST, TEST.
2. Use tools and then TRUST the tools.
If you find yourself frustrated trying to get your marketing pieces looking professional but can’t do it yourself or your budget can’t afford the cost of having a graphic artist do 87 revisions, check out some of these tools: Beacon for creating tip sheets, resource guides, and even eBooks. Typepad or for creating quizzes. Tools like Canva can help you create infographics or graphics to promote the tip sheets and guides you’ve created. (See our post on Create Lead Magnets for more information.) And if you want a video tool to send out videos in emails check out LOOM, a free Chrome extension that allows you to record just you, or you showing your screen. This tool is free for videos under 10 minutes.
3. Go for 80% Done.
A good friend of mine (and client), Toni Newman, is a recovering perfectionist as well. Someone told her that she needed to use the 80% rule because her 80% good enough is still 100% enough for everyone else. I love this. If you think you must have 10 pages on your whitepaper before it can be complete, let it go when you have 8. If you think your blog post has to have exactly 1,400 words before it can be published, wrap it up at …. 1,120 (full disclosure… I had to ask Alexa what 80% of 1400 was, whereas I should have said “wrap it up when you are around 1,000 words”). Just learn to let go a little sooner and watch how the world keeps spinning and you get more accomplished.
4. Allow yourself to be a beginner.
Especially when it comes to using new tools like podcasting or social video! It’s ok to let your audience know you are using a new tool, or finally working up the courage to use live video. Not only will people be ok with it, they will often cheer you on and offer words of encouragement. This transparent confession also makes you much more LIKEABLE.
4 ½. GET STARTED!
That 1st step is the only huge one. Once you commit to doing it—putting yourself out there—getting that first blog post written and published, or that first video done and out to the world, you will find that each one following gets easier and BETTER! I used to tell my youngest daughter, also a perfectionist, that she can’t start something as an expert. Experts become experts by being beginners who kept doing something over and over.
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