The Evolution of Expectation
One of the many nuggets of knowledge I learned during my 20+ year career in a large aerospace corporation is how to manage your own expectations while delivering on the expectations of others.
When you're working on a large scale marketing project that involves multiple stakeholders - both internal and external - there are many individual points of view to consider during the development stage, not the least of which is your own.
You not only have to keep your audience in mind (the first rule of marketing), you also need to manage the company's expectations, brand standards, and most importantly, the budget available. This translates into managing constraints that inhibit the grand vision you may have for the project.
Fear of Falling Short
Quite often a vision is dynamic, so coming up with a plan to execute or bring it to reality can be daunting, especially when you're trying to be exacting to the initial idea. A basic concept that was introduced to me, and quickly became my mantra was:
Don’t make perfect the enemy of the good.
It’s easy to become paralyzed by greatness as you strive for perfection, and this can put the entire project at risk for completion. You need to find a way to keep moving forward to get the project to the finish line.
Evolving Your Vision To Suit Reality
Moving the project forward means you may need to revisit and adapt your vision as reality and constraints limit what you can do.
Quite often budget and timing are the two factors that impact creative development the most; you may have a large budget but your graphic designer / video producer / other resources can't physically complete the work in time, or you may have a long lead time but very little budget to play with. Or worst case, you have a limited budget and a short timeframe while expectations for you to deliver are high.
So how do you accommodate all these factors while fearing your vision is being compromised? The answer is simple: you must evolve your vision.
This can be very disappointing to accept, but the sooner you realize that budget and timeframe are more difficult "hard points" to adjust than your brilliant idea, the better off you'll be in the long run.
You need to be willing to compromise your vision (sometimes more than once) during the course the project. In other words, don't be married to just one idea.
Delivering on Your Vision
There is a way to navigate disappointment, however. You can be confident that the meaning behind your message will shine through if you use it as your underlying motivation; the quality of the final product will still have the intended impact on your audience - despite not being exactly what you had originally visualized - if you can find a way to stay true to your message while managing constraints.
Keep in mind that "all roads lead to Rome", so even if you have to find a different route to the end result, you can still find a way to get there. While having a large budget and a long timeframe may be the ideal situation to create something brilliant, you might still be able to find a unique way to communicate your message that will resonate with your audience.
You may even get lucky and find something completely different that has even more viral impact than your original idea, like Ocean Spray Cranberry Cocktail did with this viral campaign.
Audience Reception & Perception
No matter how you get the project to its completion, there's one critical thing you can always rely on to ring true:
Your audience never sees your original vision, they only see what you produce.
So what does that mean? It means that no matter how divergent the end product is from your original idea, the audience will only see the quality and messaging in the material that is presented to them. So as long as the end product contains the essence of your meaning - your underlying motivation - it can still have the desired affect.
Marketing is an Evolution of Expectation
The more flexible and responsive you can be as your marketing program develops, the better your chances of being able to keep up with its ever-evolving landscape. There are so many ways you can reach your target audience, so having a flexible approach will help you find more options to manage expectations while still delivering top quality work product and desired results.
And if all else fails, remember that great ideas stand the test of time; you can always revisit your brilliant vision later and incorporate it in new ways when time and the budget allow!