How long will you sharpen your pencil?

Imagine working hard and giving your best to a project but your client wants a faster outcome. You are investing your emotional labor and wants to convince your client about what is in their best interest. There are no gimmicks and it’s total sincerity and dedication.

However, the client pushes back seeking aggressive deadlines and wants an early closure on the project even though it has not been delayed and is very well on track. Here, you can do one of two things. You can keep convincing the client that there is more to be done, more research and more perfection. Or, you could say that you have tried your best and here you go.

You can keep sharpening your pencil but you will reach a stage where you will find no more lead.

So, let it go. Let’s ship it and forget the outcome. Holding on won’t do you or your client any good. Perfection wastes time and money.


Simple marketing ideas work

I recently tried a simple marketing concept at work.  A well-regarded faculty member was celebrating his 60th birthday and he didn’t want his friends, relatives or former students to send him presents or wish him well on his birthday.

Instead, he wanted them to donate to a scholarship endowment to help students who faced hardships during their externships.

I talked to the professor and came up with a simple idea. Why don’t we highlight the professor’s age and encourage everyone to donate a minimum of $60 on his 60th birthday? Next, we focused on identifying the best medium to disseminate his message. The professor, a great Peanuts fan, had an office adorned with Schulz and his characters. We created a simple, yet humorous e-blast featuring a Peanuts character and a message from the Professor urging well-wishers to donate $60 to the scholarship.

We planned two dates to disseminate the e-blast. The first was send a week before his 60th and the other hit in-boxes three days before his birthday. The idea worked and over 50 individuals gave varying amounts to the endowment.

This effort generated many well-intentioned conversations. The Professor felt proud and said he couldn’t have got a better 60th birthday present than the response from his friends, former students and relatives. We made a simple iphone thank you video and emailed it to all who donated and they also received a hand written note.

Sometimes, simple marketing ideas generate larger conversations. They create deeper impact than complex, metrics driven content marketing.

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