Let’s face it – perfection doesn’t exist and the strive to find it is a sure-fire way to stress yourself out. But polished does exist, and it always comes with practice.
As a chorister I attend weekly rehearsals that lead to concerts and the occasional recording. Our first sing-through of a new piece, or even an old one we haven’t done for a while, is never performance-ready. We need time for every part first of all to hear and understand the shape of the whole, and then to practice their own part and where it fits.
As a marketing strategy consultant it’s the same principle. Clients hire me to benefit from the practice I’ve already undertaken. The value propositions I’ve developed for multiple companies, the experience I’ve had in rolling them out, the practice I’ve had in fine-tuning the elements that need to add up for their proposition to become true. Good marketing looks at everything an organisation does that impacts the customer – and that’s especially important for service businesses.
Yet all too often in business, we practice products but not services. Tangible products get tested. So do digital ones – I’ve led product development teams and both technical and user testing were a key part of the project plan prior to launch. In an agile world you could view a company’s Beta or minimum viable product as an open rehearsal – a chance to see how your audience might react. But with services we often put them live, or change parts of the customer journey, without this practice. Without the team having a clue what the overall performance is supposed to sound like and so understand where they fit. I often wonder why and whilst the answer is normally a need for short-term sales, it’s usually also short-sighted.
I love this TEDEd video about how practice works for our brains – practice that’s consistent, intensely focused and targets what’s on the edge of your ability. What this video also reminds me of is that for musicians, practice is about taking responsibility for your own part. Yes the conductor holds you together, yes the trumpets are supposed to give you your cue, yes the timpani keep the constant beat and if you hit a bum note someone else might help you get back on track. But you own when you are due to join the music. And you focus on mastering your part, and where it fits. It’s up to you to contribute to the whole performance and unless you’re in school band someone else won’t teach you every note. You practice together and on your own.
As a marketing consultant I don’t come in to play each part, merely to help you make sure that the song you sing is what your audience want to hear, and that your team understands where their part fits. It’s then easier for your marketer to promote what you do and bring the audience. And for you, the leader, to conduct.
Making time for everyone to practice is important. Making sure everyone is accountable to own their own part is equally important. Food for thought. Tackle your value proposition and your marketing like a musician.