Procrastination Marketing's Enemy!

July 11, 1998 -- Procrastinate . . . to put off doing something until later; defer to take action!

As a marketer, businessman, and consultant, I do not know what is more frustrating than the above word and its respective definition when the facts are known, the plan is developed, and there is financial ability to implement.

Postponing due to the lack of financial resources is the only acceptable excuse when the homework is done right whether it is a strategy, new product, and/or new service.

I expect many of you have been in situations where you end up twiddling your thumbs due to an individual or group's unwillingness to see the potential or belief that another month or year will not make a difference.

Procrastination can be devastating to a business especially if it is at the senior level.

  • It can lead to crisis management.
  • It can be very detrimental to maintaining a competitive edge.
  • It stymies creativity and innovation.
  • It can lead to the loss of talent.

I surmise it is also associated with the inability to be decisive. Furthermore, it comes into to play when ignorance of the situation is evident and there is no attempt to educate oneself.

Element of Tunnel Vision
And then there is the element of tunnel vision, which can play an important role in procrastination. My experience has shown that these managers and owners are not marketing-oriented. The time-line is not that critical to them. They are concerned with day to day results versus yearend and three to five year goals. So they may give a tepid endorsement, if any . . . and are in no hurry to implement.

Instead, they point to the past and now, trying to avoid upsetting a good thing in their minds. One particular individual comes to mind from a personal experience. He had a habit of putting off new product ideas, programs, and even acquisitions. A division was even divested, because of the inability to develop new products or acquire them.

Small Business Owners
Now many small business owners' procrastination evolves from coping with doing multiple management tasks under financial constraints. As their business grows, they hire consultants and key professional to assist or manage the marketing and sales functions. Simply put, procrastination becomes a noticeable problem when trying to prioritize what to do first when one's eye is still looking at the daily results along with the reluctance to relinquish authority.

Case in point
I came up with an idea of introducing a product to the consumer products market that was already successful in another field. It was something that consumers could easily relate to and offered both impulse and need attributes. An excellent combination for presenting features and benefits. However, after spending a year and half hearing the CEO espouse the concept without finalizing the go ahead, a larger competitor introduced the product. No surprise that it is still the market leader today.

Web Site Development
is another excellent example of procrastination! And it is particularly true with small businesses. Luckily, I do not have enough hair on my head to worry about losing it over trying to convince certain clients the need to do it now. Even the prospects of doing over a million dollars online the first year has not been a good enough reason for one. (I wonder if tomorrow will ever come for them.)

Another Simple Truth
Procrastination is counter-productive to being proactive. A company that finds itself reacting to competition and other issues has to be experiencing procrastination within its management ranks along with having a weak marketing process.

can also lead to corporate procrastination and tunnel vision if senior management turns a deaf ear to marketing. However, being complacent like Microsoft was before Netscape woke it up . . . is not procrastination. Look what's happening now!
In fact, Microsoft is probably the best example of what procrastination is not about. They have been so proactive that they are being criticized for it. And I do not intend to comment one way or another about this matter . . . I prefer to procrastinate!

If you are irritated with me after reading this article . . . so be it! But I am just trying to make a point and not accuse any particular reader of being a procrastinator. I do though suggest you take a hard look in the mirror and then see what else you notice with your peripheral vision. The same goes with the ability and/or willingness to recognize potential that may not be directly in front of you.


David G. Bancroft
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