Marketing: Not perfect, but done.

This is one of my rallying cries when it comes to marketing.

Not perfect, but done.

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Accountants in particular have a tendency to want marketing to be perfect. The tendency for perfectionism does not only apply to marketing, but it’s one of those areas that it applies to more than others, because:

  • Marketing is confusing to you, especially online marketing
  • You’re so busy you don’t know where to begin
  • You have high standards for yourself, your firm, and your work
  • Making mistakes in accounting areas can result in horrendous consequences for you or your clients, so you don’t want the same to happen in your marketing

Well, I have good news. In general, many of the ‘mistakes’ you could make in marketing won’t cause a disaster of epic proportions. Matter of fact they might even end up being the best thing you ever did.

Story time.

Failure to… email properly.

We were doing some email marketing for one of our clients, and the topic was “FTI: Failure to Implement”. We were marketing a webinar with that title, and we sent out the email with the date, time, registration link, etc. After we sent it to almost 1,000 people, one person emailed back and asked what the date was, because we said Wednesday 25 May, and as far as he could tell, Wednesday was the 24th and Thursday was the 25th, so which was it?

Now, we could have gasped with horror and bewailed the major marketing disaster we had inadvertently caused, which would have repercussions for years, and no one would ever do business with our client again because they are not professional enough to get the date right.

Instead, we gasped a little, laughed a little, wrote back and apologised to the one person, and then edited and re-sent the email.

Our new subject line was “FTGTDR: Failure To Get The Date Right”.

We explained our mistake, apologised, and confirmed what the date was, and encouraged them to register.

They had more registrants for that webinar than any other we had done previously.

Now, it is possible to make marketing mistakes that ruin lives and businesses. (Witness the famous Justine Sacco tweet that lost her a PR job and brought damage to her company.) But in my experience, there are four key principles here:

1. Use common sense.

2. Be honest.

3. Be human.

4. Be yourself.

See, these days, being honest and human and real is far preferable to your prospective clients than your being perfect. None of us are, actually, perfect, so it relieves us greatly when we discover that someone else struggles too. Makes mistakes. Gets it wrong now and then.

Number four in that list above is so important. Don’t try to be funny because it worked for someone else. Don’t model your accountancy firm after another one you saw that has had great success. Model your accountancy firm after successful businesses who have done well, and be yourself.

Speaking of which, just a quick side rant. The number of firms I’ve heard in the past month who have told me that they want to “be like the Wow Company” is absolutely phenomenal. I think the entire accounting industry wants to be like the Wow Company. Now, I quite like them. I like what they do, I’ve met Paul Bulpitt and he’s brilliant, and has done well for himself. He has great ideas and you should listen to him. But you shouldn’t BE him. Or his company. First, it’s not possible, and second, it’s not wise. The whole world of accounting prospects is so varied that we need a Paul…and also a Jim. And a Martyn. And a Sue. And a David, a Ross, a Gail, a Katharine, a Sian. Be yourself. Be your own firm. Focus on your own areas. Do your own thing. I’m pretty confident Paul Bulpitt would agree with me here!

Talk like you would talk in real life. Say things that sound like you. If you have a dry humour (like one of my favourite tweeters, @SoVeryBritish), use that. If you’re direct and even a little aggressive, be that way. One of the things unique to the Profitable Firm is our commitment to understanding your style, your turns of phrase, your preferred imagery, things you like and don’t like. We develop a Style Sheet for every one of our clients, and every team member who works on your marketing – whether it’s design, copywriting, or even posting a blog – has read that style sheet and has an awareness of who you are and how you are different from all our other clients. It’s how we write content for you that is always customised, entirely unique to you. Sometimes we provide generic resources (like our 10 Ways Xero Makes Your Business and Life Better webinar presentation) – but even in a case like that we will always customise it to you, and that’s more than just slapping your logo on it and changing a few colours. Wording changes. Imagery changes. Deleting things that don’t fit. Adding phrases you would use.

Not perfect, but done.

Okay, back to our discussion on perfection. The point is, if you follow those 4 principles I shared, and just get something out, even if it’s not perfect you can 1) fix it later, or 2) focus on the results. If you sent an email that wasn’t as pretty as you wanted, but 14 people downloaded your free resources, great. If you forgot to click the record button and you did an entire webinar that you now don’t have the recording for, well, just run it again.

As an example of imperfection, I’ll give you a little preview into a video I was working on a few weekends ago. I put together a few slides, opened Camtasia, and started recording.

And then…got stuck. Tried again…got stuck again. I just couldn’t get the words out! Fourth time was the charm, and then I was off and running and recorded the whole 30 minute video.

Getting things done doesn’t mean you don’t edit it at all, or make any mistakes at all – but it does mean that you adapt and adjust and eventually just finish it.

The blooper reel…

And the finished product (30 minute video):

You get marketing done, while others keep striving for perfection.

I guarantee that many of your accounting compatriots are hemming and hawing and thinking and considering and testing and re-testing and evaluating all their marketing ideas.

And if while they are doing that, you are getting things done….

…well, then, perfection isn’t as important.