Have you been stressed about writing an upcoming blog post? Dreading the creation of your next ad campaign? Worried that your social media calendar isn’t “good enough”? If your answer is yes, you might be struggling with marketing perfectionism. While it’s natural to set high standards for projects, being overly obsessed with each and every detail can hold you and your team back from achieving marketing goals and, ultimately, future success.
Perfect just isn’t possible, and to help you spot signs of perfectionism on your team (or within yourself!), we have put together this guide which covers: Perfectionism, Signs of Perfectionist Tendencies, Perfectionism in Marketing, and Five Techniques to Cope with the Pressure of Perfectionism.
“Your Marketing is never going to be perfect. You’ve got to let that perfectionist sh*t go. Your success is not going to hinge on a single blog or social media post.” – Lorrie Thomas Ross, CEO
What is a Perfectionist?
A perfectionist is someone who consistently sets impossibly high standards for themselves. This skews one’s perception to view every project or task as not “good enough” and often leads to frustration, dissatisfaction, and extreme anxiety. Beyond this mental toll, perfectionism can also have physical ramifications, including eating disorders and self-harm.
Signs of Perfectionist Tendencies
There are numerous signs that you or someone on your team might be struggling with perfectionist tendencies. These signs include:
- Feeling like you are always about to fail and fearing failure.
- Procrastinating on tasks because you are anxious about completing them perfectly.
- Attempting to control all of your team projects or your work environment.
- Feeling burned out because you are constantly striving to make each project or task perfect.
- Struggling to complete your task list and feeling stressed by your workload.
- Feeling constantly anxious and/or experiencing spiraling thoughts about upcoming projects.
Perfectionism in Marketing
When it comes specifically to marketing, perfectionism could look like:
- Experiencing extreme writer’s block, which leaves you unable to finish blogs, social media posts, or web copy because they are never good enough.
- Constantly editing marketing pieces and landing pages without actually moving forward on the project.
- Not trusting other members of your marketing team to write copy, design graphics, or lead projects.
- Feeling anxious to move forward on testing different assets out and wanting each asset/project to be 100% perfect the first time.
“Excellence does not require perfection.” – Henry James
5 techniques to cope with the pressure of perfectionism
If the last few sections have been relatable, you aren’t alone! Fear of failure and rejection is both common and understandable. Luckily, there are different techniques that you can use to start alleviating the pressures of perfectionism.
- Accept that “done” is better than “perfect” and take action! Action could look like writing one piece of ad copy for a larger campaign or simply starting research for an upcoming blog post. Taking small steps, even when you don’t necessarily feel ready, is better than paralyzing yourself with indecision and inaction. If you have a large campaign coming up, breaking this down into smaller tasks and focusing on one task at a time can help to lessen anxiety and keep you working toward your overall goal.
- Incorporate testing into your marketing strategy. Testing allows you to move past personal biases – what you might consider to be a flop could turn out to be a hit with your target audience! A/B testing the performance of ads and landing pages also helps to analyze engagement and audience response, giving you peace of mind that you are moving forward with proven results. “If you’re not making mistakes, you’re probably not experimenting enough.” – Noah Kagan, AppSumo
- Set realistic goals in a realistic timeframe. No more impossible standards – you aren’t superhuman! Set SMART goals for your team (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound), and also set a time estimate for each task to help projects continue to move forward.
- Recognize that mistakes are inevitable. You won’t be able to move through life or your job without making mistakes! It is important that your company culture values relationships and understands when mistakes happen. Most are not threatening or mean that you have failed. Instead, view each mistake as “This is what I did with the tools and knowledge currently at my disposal; moving forward, I now have a new understanding and ability to perform differently.”
- Talk with a trained mental health professional. If perfectionism is greatly interfering with your work life and self-coping strategies haven’t been helping, you could benefit from speaking with a therapist. Cognitive-behavioral therapists will work with you to develop new coping skills and learn how to change problematic thinking habits.
Marketing can sometimes feel like a messy whirlwind of never-ending projects and constantly changing consumer behavior and technology. Instead of obsessing over whether a task has been completed perfectly, try leaning into the inherent imperfection, and work toward creating authentic, flexible marketing solutions for your business and your clients. It might feel extremely vulnerable at first, but we promise the results will be well worth the effort.
“If you wait for things to be perfect, you walk away with nothing. Just jump in and get started.” – Jennifer Ritchie