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Monday, November 14, 2005

Your Brand's Co-Pilot = Your Consumers

Marketers can be control freaks and perfectionists. Many marketers and non-marketers think that having control is the only way to obtain perfection. Well, I have a few thoughts that take quite the contrary opinion.

First, I am a believer of the quote that "perfection is the enemy of progress." This means that 90% correct and 30% more productivity is better than 100% correct and 30% less productivity. In this case, 90% is the abitrarily acceptable number that I've chosen, but the concept is whatever the industry and customer will accept. In total quality management principles, closely related to six-sigma, this means the goal post theory (def: the range of acceptable results falls between the goal posts). The point is that you can do more - more than your competition and than you would do striving for perfection - and still be successful so long as you meet your customers' expectation of quality.

Secondly, regarding "control": releasing control is critical to success, in any sized business. Hands on and in tune to what's going on, but trusting your colleagues or direct reports. The key to being able to do this is to have smart people working for you and to have a brand that follows through on its promise/expectations to consumers. If you fulfill these requirements, then you qualify for the chance to take the next plunge: releasing control of your brand to consumers. Yes, it comes with risks. With calculated risks, however, come calculated returns.

In my current line of work - marketing search technology, enterprise software, and information services - this is a theme I return to time and time again in my planning and vision. Sometimes it may be in the form of a company-confined topic, other times it may be a competitive comparison or totally related to a niche consumer-centric need/interest. Whatever the flavor, these concepts have the potential to be wildly successful with proper resource allocation and execution. Doing so in my business or yours can empower consumers to take our brands, relationships, and businesses to the next level. And quite frankly, we all need co-pilots to be successful sometimes.


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