We’re all looking for ways to become better marketers, in one way or another. Sometimes, we take new classes or attend seminars that allow us to acquire new skills. Other times, we do online research and talk to peers in groups to learn more about a subject that was previously unfamiliar.
But some of the best and most transformative changes in your career come from a change in your mentality or your attitudes — and I think one of the most important is learning to not only accept, but embrace failure.
Why is this so powerful and how can you achieve it?
Three reasons to embrace failure as a marketer
The way I see it, there are three extremely good reasons to embrace failure as a marketer:
1. Confidently addressing failure encourages you to experiment
First, embracing failure encourages you to experiment. When you aren’t afraid of the end results, you’re much more willing to break out of your comfort zone and try something novel that you hadn’t considered in the past. You’re also much more likely to take risks because you’re more comfortable with the worst-case scenario. It’s easy to get complacent as a marketer; you discover an approach that works somewhat well and doesn’t seem to ruffle any feathers, and it’s tempting to stick with it. But if you want to make waves and stand out from the competition, you need to find a way to be bolder.
2. Failure is often the best way to learn
We’re all secretly hoping to learn about some perfect strategy that works every time and is easy to use. But in the working world, it’s rare and difficult to learn about something that works. It’s much easier and much more consistent to learn about things that don’t work. Learning to embrace your own failure puts you in a position to fail more frequently on a smaller scale. This opens you up to lessons and modes of discovery that are completely inaccessible to people afraid of failing. Failure is often the best way to learn, whether you’re trying to discover some new power words for your copywriting or figure out which social media platform most resonates with your target audience.
3. Failure is inevitable, but recovery isn’t
In many ways, failure is an inevitability in the marketing realm. Sooner or later, if you keep creating and distributing advertisements in new ways, you’re going to hit some snags. Some marketers encounter these challenges and immediately crumble; they don’t have the confidence or constitution to continue experimenting or pushing their careers. But if you’re fully familiar with failure and you’re not afraid of it, you’ll enjoy a much smoother recovery.
How to embrace failure
So what steps can you take to learn to embrace failure as a marketer?
- Study failed campaigns by major brands:I’m talking about tasteless advertisements, PR disasters and marketing angles that offended target audiences. Countless major brands have experienced these downturns and have still found lasting success. This should make you much more comfortable with the possibility of a smaller and less cringey failure.
- See failure as part of the process: Just as cracking an egg is a vital part of getting to the delicious interior of this cooking ingredient, failing an experiment is a vital part of learning what will make a campaign work.
- Commit to learning something with each failure:You won’t see failure as an end or as a devastating event if you treat it as a genuine learning experience. Learn something from every failure you encounter — from advertising campaigns that just aren’t profitable to embarrassing emails you sent to the wrong person. As long as you walk away with new knowledge and a new perspective, the failure can’t be considered a total loss.
- Set better expectations with your teams and clients: Have conversations with your team about your attitude toward failure and what you’re doing to make yourself a better marketer. Your bosses, your clients, your subordinates and your peers will all be able to learn from your example — and continue supporting you when you do have setbacks.
- Fail on purpose: Obviously, you shouldn’t waste your company’s budget or intentionally tank a client’s major campaign. But failing on purpose, in small ways, can make you more comfortable with the concept of failure.
Once you become more comfortable with your own failure, or potential for failure, you’ll be in a position to create more creative and innovative campaigns. You’ll also set a course for faster growth in your career. Comfort with failure gives you a strong competitive edge and resilience when most other marketers would collapse.