The Road to Success is … Failure?

March 09, 2018
03_09_road to success_final

“It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.” – Edward de Bono

Marketing is hard. It’s a crowded, noisy market out there and your target audience can be jaded. That doesn’t mean there’s no hope; it just means you have to work that much harder to get your message heard. It also means you have to be willing to fail every now and again. The only way to break through the commotion is with truly creative and innovative tactics and programs. And to discover what works, you have to try different ideas. But they won’t all work. If you build a culture of testing and trying new ideas into your marketing organization, plans, and budgets, you will be in a much better position to find successful ways to reach your target audience in a meaningful way. This means more than just testing subject lines and email layouts (I hope you are doing that already; if not, you should start now). It means investing time and resources on new messages, offers, vehicles, and technologies.

This is not easy to do. There can be a big disconnect between the desire to do something different and the ability to actually pull the trigger. I have been involved in countless projects where marketing and other executives demand “bold and innovative,” but when presented with an idea or design that is, in fact, bold and innovative they get nervous and start pulling it back until it gets into “what everyone else is doing” territory.

The fear is understandable; but if you are going to develop creative new programs, the fear must be conquered. Start small, but start somewhere. Try something new. Don’t give up if it fails; learn from it and try something else.

You don’t have to abandon your “tried and true” programs. Try some new things in addition to, not instead of, what’s currently working. Use the lessons learned from these new ventures and apply them to your existing programs. Take the successful new ideas and add them to your mix. Learn lessons from the ones that didn’t work to improve your future success rates. But most importantly, don’t stop generating ideas, trying them out, and accepting a few failures so that you can achieve some spectacular successes.


Try building a culture of testing and trying new ideas in your marketing organization in order to find successful ways to reach your target audience.

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