The Problem Pursuing Perfection, Especially in Marketing

Perfect is the enemy of Good.

The quest for excellence shouldn’t be confused with pursuing perfection, yet it’s a trap many marketers fall into. Many enterprise marketers get caught up in producing the “perfect” campaign or the “perfect” web site. This is a clear case of missing the forest for the trees. It also means that many don’t have the organizational fortitude to build a truly sustainable demand generation program.

Building something as complex and far-reaching as a demand generation engine is a process filled with twists and turns and a fair amount of uncertainty along the way. It’s uncomfortable for most involved, most people and organizations tend to resist change. However, it’s a vital transformation that’s needed if a marketing organization and the organization at large is going to succeed with modern buyers. According to a recent article by McKinsey, the key to success in transformation includes challenging existing mind-sets and fully committing to execution.

If you’re only as good as your last “deliverable,” it’s a cycle that’s hard to break. Modern demand generation leaders need endurance for the long haul as an enterprise organization can’t turn on a dime in terms of processes and systems, and certainly not people.

So, what’s a marketer to do?

The focus has to shift to building an engine instead of deliverables, which requires all the pieces: people, processes, content and technology. These aren’t disparate pieces, but integrated functions in a machine that can run for the long term. The machine needs key pieces to function properly.


The machine has to have a solid strategy or blueprint. Starting with your buyers and bringing that view through every step, from the first interaction all the way to how your sales team interacts with leads you’ve provided. This gives you a stable core to build outward from that can be replicated.


Content is the fuel for this machine, but it’s about more than just churning out a never-ending stream of puffery. Content that is useful, relevant and aligned to the buyer’s journey is needed to run this machine. More is not better in terms of fuel, create and use what you need to engage your buyer, as anything else is wasteful.

Operating Manual

The machine can’t run without instructions on how to operate it. The processes that govern how you listen for and respond to buyer behavior are needed both to understand how the machine should be operating as well as how it should be built. A sustainable strategy and process needs to be documented, otherwise, it is not truly a sustainable.


The right technology, built to the processes you engineer, integrating with the other elements of your strategy, keeps everything moving along. It can’t run without content or processes underlying it, but with this many moving parts, automation is necessary to manage the engine.


People are required to run this engine. Some are needed to build or oversee the individual pieces, and some are needed to feed it. Still others are needed to tinker with it when it needs a tune-up.

Pursuing Excellence: Engineers Needed

The key to successfully running this machine is the ability to evaluate and optimize. The core shift that is needed to move from a “perfection” mind set to an “optimizer” one is the realization that after you build it, the engine can be tweaked along the way to adjust for minor leaks or performance boosts when needed. If you’re building an engine, you have the means to dig in, diagnose the issue and make adjustments. You can even start to replicate the engine across other aspects of your business.

Building the engine means shifting from the pursuit of perfection to the pursuit of excellence, and making the changes necessary to support a sustainable approach to demand generation. Don’t get so caught up in perfection that you cannot see the forest for the trees.



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