If you were involved in the Quality revolution of the 1990s, you might have come across the saying: Get it right first time.
I do understand the philosophy behind this approach, but frankly it can also be a big burden to creating real quality – quality in your products, quality in your marketing, and most importantly, quality in your profits.
In today’s fast-paced world, I would rather say: Get it right next time. Or, as one of my clients put it, “Practise on the world”.
In other words, rather than wasting endless hours fine-tuning every little detail of every on-line marketing campaign, just get it 80% right. Stop looking for Mr/Ms Right and settle for Mr/Ms Right Now.
It’s the 80/20 Rule in action: 80% of what matters is done in 20% of the time; the remaining 80% of time makes very little difference. This is also known as the law of diminishing returns. After you create your first draft, making improvements makes sense only up to a point. After that point, every improvement takes more effort and returns less and less value.
How will you know when you’ve reached the magic 80%? You won’t know exactly. But as a general rule, it happens sooner than you think.
So stop worrying about whether your e-mail campaign will address the reader as “Dear Mr. Bloggs” or “Dear Joe”; stop fretting over the exact font colour of your sub-headings; stop optimising that product photo so that it gives you exactly the right balance between quality and file size; stop that debate about whether to say “who you’re afraid to ask” or “whom you’re afraid to ask”. For the most part, none of this stuff matters. Just get it out there and let your market be the judge.
This idea won’t necessarily apply in every industry. For example, if you’re selling health products, security items or parachutes, perhaps it’s not good enough to get your products 80% right! But in most cases, you’re probably doing too much work for too little effort.
If you still feel uncomfortable about working this way, here are five things that could help.
1. Announce it’s a “beta” version.
If you’re releasing a product that is 80% complete, tell your customers that this is a first draft, a test, a beta version, a pre-release version – whatever. This allows you to release something at 80% quality, and in fact it encourages customers to give you real feedback on it.
2. Give them an incentive to buy it now.
For example, with information products that you deliver electronically, it’s easy to release the first version quickly, promising that you will send your customers a free upgrade to the full version when it’s available. This allows your initial customers to get the product now, without penalising them.
3. Choose your market carefully.
If you’re really not sure about the quality of your product, and perhaps you’re worried that it might damage your reputation, don’t tell everybody about it. Instead, select a few trusted, loyal customers only and offer it to them first. They will appreciate the fact that you chose them and they will give you valuable feedback about the product.
4. Ask your friends.
If you think it’s still too early to expose to customers, ask your online social networks – your Facebook friends, people in a particular LinkedIn group, a select Google+ circle – for their opinion. You can also ask offline social networks, such as a business mastermind group, close colleagues, or members of an industry association.
5. Leak it out in bits and pieces.
Post it to your blog before you publish it in a book. Change your dinner menu one item at a time and ask your customers for feedback. Break it into pieces and release them one at a time – with enough time between them to allow you to change what’s coming next if you need to.