Video and transcript of Google executive discussing importance of speed over perfection in storytelling

Summary

  1. This video is one of many off a YouTube channel, Fast.Forward, offering “quick perspectives on the changing face of marketing.”
  2. In it, Jim Lecinski, the managing director of U.S. Sales for Google argues the importance of speed over perfection when it comes to releasing marketing materials. I translate that as, “If you’re a storyteller, should you tweak your baby for weeks on end, or just get it out there?”
  3. Transcript is toward the bottom of the post.

Why am I interested?

  1. Marketing is storytelling, and anyone who communicates today will navigate, more than ever, the trampoline of tension between speed and quality.
  2. There is an immense, ever-increasing pressure to quickly stake one’s claim on the shifting online landmass of a story so to have a voice in the conversation.
  3. I grew up feasting on a diet of media born in a cauldron of slowness; I understand speed, but tend to lean toward the mental activities associated with perfecting a story. I feel a tension between the two, so am attempting to better understand the source and veracity of that tension.

Brain gum

  1. What we are losing, if anything, by emphasizing the attributes of speed over the attributes of human communication that slowness more adeptly (but not exclusively) encourages: reflection, analysis, thoroughness and most importantly, signification.
  2. Because without meaning, stories, quickly or slowly delivered, are just the howls of a lonely animal locked inside a language of one. Yet with the low-cost, high-speed, one-on-many and widespread communication that is the Internet, perhaps the act of signification is becoming even more distributed, like everything else, and there is no need for an authoritarian individual to deduce what information means in advance of its release. Perhaps this top-down, hierarchical approach simply reflected the limits of our communication technologies of the past.
  3. Maybe much of the analysis and enhancement an individual might contribute to a story on his or her own in the past is now occurring as a conversation with online collaborators (the people formerly known as the audience). Yet this still creates a demand for synthesis, a sorting and summarizing task difficult to effectively accomplish with a group, as various constituencies gather and redirect the threads of a story most important to them.

Transcript

Note: The minute and seconds marks represent the end point of the word immediately preceding them. For example, at 0:05, he says “today.”

One-hundred percent agree that speed beats perfection today (0:05).

Again we all learn the craft of marketing the other way around (0:09) — that perfection beats speed, that it was actually OK to delay shipping a magazine ad to a publication until next month’s issue because we were going to work on the spacing between the typeface for another week (0:22).

And that was fine, and that was perfect then in those days (0:26).

The question now is what are you giving up by waiting a month to get your message in the marketplace versus what you might gain by improving the type 5 percent (0:37).

This is now a real question because we can measure these things (0:41).

Before it was hard to know what impact gain or loss would happen. But now we can sit there and say, ‘Well this is the total number of consumers in the market that we would reach; this is how many prospects, leads or hand-raisers we would generate with perhaps something that’s perfect in a month versus what we could generate with something that is 80 percent right today.’ (1:02)

And we just weigh that cost-benefit analysis, and we find in conversations with Fortune 500 marketers that for the most part speed will always beat perfection (1:12).


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