Successful marketing is messy


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A good friend of mine who has managed sales organizations for years always had a great comeback when a non-sales executive sat in on pipeline review meetings with his sales team (often with occasionally horrified looks on his/her face):

“You don’t always want to see how the sausage is made.”

We’d like to think the buying process is clean, seamless, frictionless. We’d like our execution to be flawless. We’d like everything to work perfectly, to align with our expectations and forecasts.

In marketing as in sales, finding success is a messy process. The end result may be beautiful, but the middle of the process is far from. Think about the last time you cleaned your office, or rearranged the kitchen or garage. The middle of the process probably looked worse than when you started! But you had a plan (even a loose one in your head), and were motivated by what the final result would look like.

Marketing isn’t that different. You set a goal, and know how you think you’ll get there. You get started, and immediately start making messes. Tests that fail, subject lines that fall flat, test groups that get upset. Maybe even beta products that aren’t well received.

These aren’t failures, they’re roadbumps. They’re the countless stacks of paper in your office right before they get filed away and everything is clean again. They’re the necessary evil that will always stand between you and the result you’re seeking.

If nobody’s done it exactly like you’re trying to do it, then it stands to reason that nobody really knows how to do it. All you can do is establish the end goal, roll up your sleeves, and start making sausage.


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