An article on Slate about GE’s management training includes a paragraph where GE’s chief learning officer Raghu Krishnamoorthy says that GE would prefer to spend $30 million to put out a less-than-perfect prototype of a new product and gather customer feedback, instead of spending $300 million to design a completed product.
Krishnamoorthy’s comment highlights a fundamental shift from a focus on delivering a perfect offering to one that emphasizes speed to market and ability to iterate. This shows how an ethos once exemplified by startups and small companies has made its way to one of the largest corporations in the world.
Marketing organizations have also adopted this approach, and while it brings clear benefits, it raises a couple questions: How do you know when an asset or marketing effort is ready? How do you know when good enough is great?
To answer this question, a company must change how it evaluates readiness. In marketing, as in other disciplines, readiness has traditionally revolved around the concept of perfection. Marketing assets and efforts are evaluated against the standard of being the best they could possibly be. While this makes sense in some cases (e.g. branding or tag lines, where materials have a substantial impact or life expectancy), this approach is often overkill for assets used in short-lived marketing campaigns. After all, a not-quite-perfect asset in use is more effective than an almost-perfect asset still in development.
To avoid the perfection trap, determine readiness by evaluating whether the asset or marketing effort addresses core buyer concerns and guides buyers through the buying cycle. If you find that it provides value to the majority of buyers by giving them the information they need (thus supporting your own goals), then the asset or marketing effort is ready to go.
This approach can reduce the costly churn that assets and marketing efforts go through as they are reworked and revised in a quest for perfection. It also prevents edge cases and exceptions from delaying the progress of assets or marketing efforts that would be useful to the majority of buyers.
In the end, changing the standard from “perfect” to “effective” shifts the focus to a more meaningful measure.