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Nobody’s perfect.  In fact, with all due respect to the philosophy behind Six Sigma management - nobody should even try to be.  At least not too quickly.

The pursuit of perfection costs money…lots of money.  And the ROI on perfection is minuscule.

I was listening to an interview with a psychiatrist specializing in neurotic behaviors when she began discussing “pack rats.”  You know, people with an obsession to keep everything they’ve ever accumulated.  She described a case study wherein two brothers accumulated so much, and their surroundings became so cluttered - chokingly packed really - that they perished among the debris.

Pack rats are irrationally afraid that they might throw away something important.  They fear they might miss something.  It’s part of what the doctor called “the pathology of perfection.”

We often encounter clients with degrees of this pathology.

Usually it manifests in a such a microscopic attention to detail that they never actually do anything except proofread, wordsmith, scour lists, debate nuance, etc - even after a painstaking effort has already been completed.  They simply won’t sign off on a project to begin.

They believe that they are demanding perfection, when in actuality they are nearly guaranteeing failure.  Like any investment, marketing your business is a calculated endeavor.  It begins with a series of informed decisions, but no guarantees.  A program is begun, results observed, adjustments made.

Professional marketing management requires ongoing adjustments.  By definition, therefore, perfection is unachievable.  And the closer a program is to its inception - the farther away from perfection it will be.

Demanding perfection at the outset will only paralyze a launch.  Then, should a marketing adviser be able to convince a client to launch in spite of a client’s fears, the inevitable failures (that’s right, I said failures) of an early stage marketing plan may cause a client to get angry.  Deliver a series of “I told you so” and force a campaign shutdown.

This exactly at the moment that learning has first begun.

A mentor of mine often reminded me that failure is but one step closer to success.  Perhaps you’ve heard this old adage as well.  Being 50, 60, 70, or 80% correct at the start of a campaign is a fair beginning on the road to success.  The costs of trying to move too quickly from 50% to 80% are exponential.  It can create unending research, tension, delays, mistakes, loss of enthusiasm, paranoia and other negativity - often resulting in total loss.

Perfectionists will fail without ever knowing how close they may have come to reaching their goals.