Try Softer, Aim Lower, Do Less, Barely Pass.

I share this vendor/client video all the time. Too many companies want A quality work, but are only willing to pay the C- prices. Champagne tastes, beer income.

I’m also noticing a ‘lowering of the bar’ trend, those who want whatever they can get for as little as it will cost, often settling for C quality work. PBR tastes, tap water income. - Thanks for failing to QA test even a single, solitary feature prior to launching this bug-riddled site redesign. Quality is in the eye of …

“The customer is always .. the customer,” says Mark W. Schaefer, Business {grow}.

Clients don’t listen, they do that all the time. They:

  • Outsource projects on the cheap that don’t ‘match’ the carefully crafted brand;
  • Looks for shortcuts and lowball ‘solutions’ to the wrong problems;
  • Fail to include ‘expert’ opinion when making needed changes;
  • Don’t ‘take’ to the training, teaching, expectation management of their paid consultants.

If the customer-client buys-into your marketing/communications campaign, but their level of taste defines ‘quality’ that doesn’t match their needs, it makes a communicator’s job that much harder.

Close enough for government work

What if a client only seems to want your 2nd best effort? There are times, I just can’t go with ‘good enough’ or a ‘passing’ grade. “We [are] the last line & should do our best to catch what we can. Have to make them look good.” – Mike Zavarello, @brightmatrix

ITA. A rushed draft may come through with more typos than I’d like, spellcheck fails happen. But I can’t settle and knowingly give slap-shot effort. I won’t get an A+ with gold stars every time, but I do try. So:

  • When I bust my ass to take dead, boring content and give it life, even a little wow factor .. only to have the switch pulled at the 11th hour after approval, it bugs.
  • When I don my “jello-juggling, cat wrangler” hat to get pictures that put the best image forward, only to be told the shoddy photos stolen off a PDF or website will PRINT just as well, it kills. (Then it’s back to school, more lessons about photo resolution, ownership rights and/or the power of images in storytelling.)
  • When I ask, ask and ask some more for feedback, for data, for the things I need to do my job better only to get “it’s fine, no need” in return, I accept that you’re not willing to pay for more; you’re just hurting yourself. But when you come back, demanding results and questioning returns without providing the resources I need, I just.. OY.

Rehab is for Quitters

There are times when it’s best for all parties to take their leave of each other, when neither is getting productive returns from the relationship. You have to know when enough is enough, know when to fold, when to quit what’s not working.

I know I need to work on a few things, not saying I don’t. There are times it’s better to take the ‘easy B’ – when the A is impossible or the returns for A effort aren’t there. It’s just that lately, I’m seeing more businesses aim no higher than B- work – a challenge for this dorky A student. I don’t know if it’s better to settle, take the B and live to fight another day.. or if it’s time to let go.

When you know a B isn’t going to be good enough to get the job done, what next?

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3 thoughts on “Try Softer, Aim Lower, Do Less, Barely Pass.

  1. When I know a B isn’t good enough to get the job done, I tell ’em. But I think you’re right about picking your battles. For me, what helps is seeing if a company/organization knows what it needs to do to get the A, but has the resources only for a B. As long as we can work towards that, I’m fine with it. And I do pull the plug if I have to (and can afford it, that’s always a factor).
    Shonali Burke recently posted..The Worst Reason to Hire a PR Pro

    1. I know not every brand needs or can afford the ‘best of the best,’ to always go for the A – I work with those small businesses. It’s just sometimes I wonder how much the bar can be lowered to still work. I could do my best A+ work all the time, but when combined with C strategy and B- execution, it still won’t be effective.

      You’re right Shonali, I need to get better at having that talk and making others (esp. at the initial, pitch stage) see what it takes to get results. I’m just feeling a little ‘C budget, A expectations’ fatigue. FWIW.

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