“It’s not failure, it’s data”

A teapoot with a fortune cookie wrapper coming out of it that reads "do not fear failture"
“Do not fear failure” by Tomasz Stasiuk is licensed under CC BY 4.0

“It’s not failure, it’s data,” Elizabeth Lombardo wrote in my most recent edition of Health Magazine. She was talking about what to do after you’ve swayed from your diet/eating plan, but this quote is also very relevant to marketing.

Too often, I hear stories from marketing colleagues who are in work environments where failures are punished severely (mine is not that type of environment, thankfully). The result? They don’t innovate or take risks. They stick to what they’ve always done, and it seems to be working ok.

But that’s the problem, it’s just working ok. Those organizations are standing still while communication patterns change and other companies innovate. To really excel, you have to try new things, and that most likely means some successes (Chick-fil-a billboards) and some failures (remember Pepsi Clear?).

A marketing Vice President I interned with at the Kellogg Company told me to think of marketing more like a panel of knobs. You turn one and see what happens. If things go badly, you turn it back and turn another knob. If things go well, you turn it more or turn another knob.

“It’s not failure, it’s data.”

So how should your organization encourage stepping out of the comfort zone while also minimizing critical errors? For this answer, I turn to the “Mistakes” part of my old employee handbook from Adams Outdoor Advertising:

If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough. Be sure to screw up wildly, creatively, and originally. So long as you have a good rationale for the chances you take and the mistakes that result, and you spend more time being right than wrong, you are doing your job.

Honest mistakes are welcome. But if you make a mistake due to laziness or stupidity and try to use this section as a defense, you’re going to be fired.

Further reading:

Avoiding the copycat “Us too” style of marketing

 

Photo: “Do not fear failure” by Tomasz Stasiuk is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Lessons from sales series: Words of wisdom from Adams Outdoor Advertising

"We Must Become the Change We Want to See" employee handbook from Adams Outdoor

 

 

When I began working for Adams Outdoor Advertising, they gave me my employee handbook, titled “We must become the change we want to see.” But it wasn’t an ordinary employee handbook. First, it was made out of billboard materials.  But more importantly, many sections of the book relate not only to outdoor, or sales, but all aspects of life.  With permission from Adams Outdoor Advertising, here are a few of my favorite sections and quotes from the book:

Section: No knuckleheads on the bus

“Hell is other people” – Jean Paul Sartre

Nothing kills fun faster than someone acting like a knucklehead. So if you find yourself acting like a knucklehead at any point during the day, stop. If you see someone else acting like a knucklehead – help them stop. But don’t be a knucklehead about it. That would defeat the purpose.

Section: The difficult truth about growth

All things in the world are growing or dying.

Adams Outdoor Handbook section on "The Difficult Truth About Growth"

Section: Accountability

…But to be accountable to our clients, we must first and foremost be accountable to ourselves. We must be able to look at ourselves in the mirror at the end of every day and say “I stand by what I did.” If we can’t do that, action must be taken.

Section: Mistakes [in the book, it’s a mirror image of the word]

“Do not fear mistakes, there are none.” – Miles Davis.

If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough. Be sure to screw up wildly, creatively, and originally. So long as you have a good rationale for the chances you take and the mistakes that result, and you spend more time being right than wrong, you are doing your job.

Honest mistakes are welcome. But if you make a mistake due to laziness or stupidity and try to use this section as a defense, you’re going to be fired.

Section: The secret to developing a trusting relationship

…It’s so simple that it seems silly to write it down. To have a trusting relationship, you must first be worthy of trust.

Section: The secret to being creative

Orville Wright did not have a pilot’s license.