Sep 4th 2013
I was just finishing an article in a recent issue of National Geographic that reminded me of the story of how "sticky notes" were invented. According to MBA lore, someone at 3M was trying to come up with a new adhesive and to his or her (not sure which) disappointment, the glue was not strong enough. It stuck, but then it was too easy to lift off. Voila! Out of a mistake came a great invention - just enough glue to hold a small note in place but a light enough amount to make it easy to remove. This was the same basic message delivered by author Hannah Bloch in her article entitled, "Failure is an Option" which points out through the eyes of some of the world's most famous explorers, how much we learn from our errors. Perhaps even more than we learn from our successes. Whether scaling Mt. Everest or exploring undersea caves, errors can give way to positive outcomes. But when firms are developing their marketing plans, there is often a tendency to want a guarantee of the results. We want to be sure the marketing activities we embrace will provide a good ROI and that our efforts will be rewarded. But like Bloch's famous explorers, the business world can benefit from some negative results (assuming they are low cost and low impact)because it teaches us what NOT to do next time. To be sure, we should celebrate our marketing victories, but we also should sift through the lessons learned when things don't go as we anticipated so that we can do much better the next time around. If we work too hard to avoid errors, we may never reach the successes we are capable of! Don't be afraid to try something new; to be innovative; to send a powerful message to the marketplace that your firm is unique. You can take risks - just remember to keep refining your approach to reflect the mistakes that may occur. Making some mistakes will make you smarter and will help you improve your marketing communications and branding going forward. Good luck!