Forget Perfection – Just Worry About Good Enough

By Ben Smith

So I thought I had  come up with this revelation, but apparently I’m not the only one.  The good news is that as you read this you’ll likely realize you’ve had the same thoughts too.  Type A personalities might want to stop reading now.

We are in the age of “Good Enough”.

Wired magazine called it “The Good Enough Revolution – When Cheap and Simple Is Just Fine”.

They lead with the example of how in camcorders, the fancy expensive football size gave way to Flip’s pocket sized basic video camera with built-in USB.  The ability to easily upload & share short video clips proved “good enough”.  Of course Flip can’t be feeling too cocky.  One day they’ll be the victim of “Good Enough”.  See the next few examples I’ve supplied and you can probably imagine why …

Cameras (10 years ago)– Film and even one-time use cameras gave way to at the time inferior picture quality point&shoot digital cameras.  The instant gratification of the LCD made the lower quality pictures “good enough”.

Digital Cameras (today) – Sure your digital cameras can take 14 megapixel pictures.  But your mobile phone’s camera – especially starting this year with next generation, led by Iphone 4, for many people it takes good enough (and getting better) pictures and is already connected to the internet.  This seems easily repeatable for video also.

TV’s – do you remember people in the early days of Plasma & LCD’s telling you how your Tube TV had a better picture.  Who cares – I just gained 2 feet deep of space in my living room, and by the way, it doesn’t take 3 guys under the age of 30 to move it around.

Consumer Package Goods- This one is scary because we’ve all thought about buying Private Label products before – the recession just gave enough of us a nudge to try them that they gained critical mass.  Not only does the cereal not cut the roof of your mouth anymore (or you’ve decided the pain is worth the $ gain), but private label in many cases has thrown the price/value equation out of whack.  Private label brands have in their arsenal shiny new packaging, quality that is the same or in some cases better, and ability to price at parity or significantly lower if need be.  Line 2 or 3 weapons up and you have a killer proposition.

Retailers – okay warehouse clubs and Walmart already fit the “good enough” mold for some people who held their noses to make it through a trip for the savings.  But dollar/discount stores – that’s a whole ‘nother story.  See my recent article about why marketers should re-examine their biases against retailers like Dollar General and Big Lots.

Implications To Our World Of Selling Stuff:

Your Value Proposition To Consumers: Can your products take advantage of the “good enough” revolution?  Or are you vulnerable?  How can you reformulate / repackage / reposition what you are already doing to address this?

How You Build Programs To Communicate & Go To Market: For starters, coming up with original ideas and programs is just as valuable if not more than perfecting something.  Yes, I know I am veering dangerously close to 80/20 rule territory, but if that helps drive the point home – so be it.  The armchair marketers in all of us tend to gravitate towards the imperfections in other people’s original work / ideas.  I’m not saying throw the kitchen sink out there, but rather re-frame your expectations.  You might find something that resonates.  Very little in life is one shot only.  If it is “good enough” you will get a chance to refine it.  That is a conundrum in itself – but don’t refine it to perfection – just refine it until it is “Better Enough” – or as the chart that I borrowed from Mr. Scott W. Ambler suggests, is “Just Barely Good Enough”.

What Trumps “Good Enough”?

Not an exhaustive list by far, and I welcome your suggested additions:

  • Connectivity.  Everybody wants it – but not every company can offer it.  Those who can are well positioned.  Anything related to mobile phones and convergence.
  • Anything that deals with your health or well being and/or safety.  Well except for Universal Healthcare – maybe –  that depends on the government’s definition of “Good Enough”.  And I’m still trying to decide what Toyota’s definition of Good Enough is.

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