Everyone writes about guides and success stories. Those are easy, and they lend you their positive aura. It’s not just in marketing, it’s in every profession, even more so if you’re an entrepreneur. While fail groups and stories emerge every now and then, it’s the success that shines over and tries to give people an example to follow.
I, for one, believe in the power of mistakes and fails, if taken in correctly and constructively. They teach you what doesn’t work so you can focus on what does work. This is valid for anything you do in life.
I started my marketing career by focusing on wins and on the fails of others. Now it’s time to show some of my own mistakes and learnings.
This is an easy one. I didn’t always listen to my peers. I didn’t listen to my target audience, nor my teams all the time. As a result, I had to redo work, adapt campaigns that fell flat and do post-mortems on unsalvageable work.
Assuming I always know best
This one is especially true as you get some wins under your belt, and it’s connected to the listening that I talked about before. Do research, test your campaigns and learn from smaller batches before you launch to full lists of people/with huge budgets. If you ask the right questions, you’ll get guidance from the ones you want to steer towards your goal.
Rushing things out the door
This is a classic. We need everything done yesterday. Marketing has infinite amount of work. Let’s try to get as much as we can out the door as fast as possible. That never leads to anything good. I did that early on in my career and still catch myself wanting to do this even now. Stop, focus, prioritize and do less with more intent, more analysis and more resources.
Choosing an angle that’s too extreme
In a world that’s more and more polarized, it’s easy to fall into the extreme bandwagon. Either too conservative, or too progressive, too radical, or too tame, campaigns and directions that try too hard to be in one camp will eventually cause the other to reject you completely. The risk is huge, because if you are wrong, it’s hard to go back from an extreme claim. Don’t be extreme, you’ll thank me later. But also try to be a little bit bold, so you don’t fall flat.
Not empathizing with the person challenging me
I used to always start a thought process with thinking about “what would I do”. That put me in challenging positions when anther other person’s context was very different from mine, and that led to conflict. Nowadays, I’m trying to think like I were in their shoes – what background they have, how they would interpret things through their cultural and personal lens. Doesn’t always work, but I’m more mindful of it and life had been better as a result.
Being too confrontational about things
This is a tricky one, since some cultures interpret assertiveness as a sign of confidence, others see it as aggressive. It’s pretty similar to the empathy point I made earlier. Think about what people around you do often to get their points across successfully and replicate that. Don’t hold on to your assertive nature if it gets you nowhere. Took me a few years of US to learn that.
Not waiting for math and statistics to confirm my findings
This is another way of saying: Stop jumping to conclusions and wait for all the data to come in. Sometimes, statistics can be skewed the wrong way if not all your audience is correctly represented. Also connected to rushing things out the door. Good things come to those who wait on the math and stats to confirm their findings.
This is a personal one more than a business one, but hey, guilty. Less now, more early in my career, but this blog bears witness that I write in bursts – 3-4-5 articles, then silence. Get better at being consistent and you’ll get farther than people like me.
Always trying to respond
I’ll just say here that silence is sometimes the best answer, especially for social media. Don’t feed the trolls. Don’t humor the hecklers. Anything you say can and will be used against you online. Now I hope that made you stop and think for a bit. It helped me a lot.
Taking things too personally
This is my parting thought — don’t fall in love with your campaigns or messages, because when you put them to the test, they might fail. And if you love them, you might not see that right away and might not learn from that mistake/miss, and end up wasting time, money and resources. The job well done is worth falling in love with after it produced the desired outcome, and then some.