Win or Learn—What Marketing Experts Learned from Their Mistakes

Win or Learn—What Marketing Experts Learned from Their Mistakes

Win or Learn—What Marketing Experts Learned from Their Mistakes

No one is immune to egregious errors, ghastly goofs, superlative snafus, or major mistakes. We’ve all had moments where we wished to recall an email message…or maybe an entire day’s work.

As we sit with our heads cradled in our hands, it may seem that nothing, not even astounding alliteration, can make things better. Somehow we muddle through, firmly resolving to do better next time. And, we can—if we learn from our mistakes.

But how can we use our slip-ups as a springboard for success? It can be challenging to turn our gaffes into gold. To help, we reached out to industry experts to learn how they turned their flubs and failures into inspiration.

Set the Right Tone in Your Communication

What we say is often not nearly as important as how we say it. These days much of our interaction is done through digital means, and that can be a detriment to understanding as tone and intention are easily misconstrued.

“Email is a terrible medium for interpersonal communication. It is soooo easy to be misunderstood, because of the lack of natural cues like tone of voice and body language,” said Tom Pick, B2B digital marketing consultant at Webbiquity.

“It is vital to be extremely careful about writing simple, clear messages that create minimal risk for misinterpretation. And this is backed up by research,” Tom said.

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Tailor Your Message for Your Audience

As a customer experience (CX) consultant and practitioner, Stephanie Thum’s primary focus is the customer. This is a good thing—especially considering the rise in customer experience as a business priority. However, Stephanie has learned that when discussing business needs with internal customers, it’s essential to vary the talk track.

“When you’re leading CX work and the change that comes with it, talk about it in the context of what’s best for the business,” she said. “You can fatigue your colleagues or send the wrong message if it seems that customers are the only concern as you make recommendations, ask for funding, or spend time on projects.”

Stephanie has been able to easily align her communications with internal audiences. “Employees, stakeholders, and others usually benefit from the CX work as well. Of course, you’re there for customers, but the talk track should center around the business, not just customers.”

Shine the Light On Others

As one of the pioneers of the CX profession, Jeanne Bliss, co-founder of Customer Bliss, is entitled to a certain degree of hubris. After all, she was advocating for customer experience before it was cool. And Jeanne admits that this was a factor at the beginning of her career.

“If you’re taking on these roles at a young age as I was—my first version of a chief customer officer was when I was still in my 20s—we inadvertently think it’s about us. The biggest thing that I learned early on was to check my ego at the door.”

What Jeanne has learned is to be generous when acknowledging those who contribute to a program’s success. “The most important part of customer experience is to make the work be about shining a light on others. Make it be about enabling others to rise,” she said.

Don’t Take Shortcuts

Maybe you want to be a hero for the sales team, be the first to market, or simply want to avoid the hard work of customer research. But, whatever the motivation, if you skimp in the planning process, you might face a consequence worse than due diligence: Abject failure.

Vengreso co-founder and CMO Bernie Borges recalled a situation from early in his career. “I remember essentially creating a product based on a little bit of input from the market, just like, ‘Hey, you should productize that.’ I didn’t do a whole lot of validation and spent time and money creating that product without a rock-solid plan behind it.”

So how did that work out for him?

“I won’t shock you when I say that it failed,” he said. “You’ve got to have a plan and then work the plan. You need to validate that there’s a need for the product. Then when you build the product, make sure you’ve got an execution plan, a promotion plan, a go-to-market plan, a plan-plan.”

Do What’s Right For You

We all know amazing marketers that don’t seem to be living up to their potential. We might ask ourselves, “Why isn’t she running the department,” or “Why hasn’t he moved onto a better company?”

While there may be external factors preventing the climb of top-performers, they may also be self-limiting because they know what makes them happy. Such is the case for Sarah Evans, founder and CEO of Sevans Strategy.

“When I first started my company ten years ago, I took on a TON of work and started hiring people to keep up with demand,” Sarah said. “Over the next several months I learned two very important lessons: one, the more people I hired, the less of the ‘work’ I got to do and I LOVE the work; and two, I’m not a great manager.”

So instead of continuing to grow her agency—the standard trajectory—Sarah scaled it back. “I truly love being a consultant and collaborating on various teams. That focus has served me well.”

How Will You Deal with Your Sensational Slip-ups?

Crummy choices are inevitable. It’s what you do with mistakes that counts. Acknowledge your error and its impact, assess what went wrong, and determine how you will prevent future failure.

Plus, learning martech trends and insights from industry leaders are also proven ways to stimulate success, before catastrophe happens. To stay up to date on marketing tips, trends, and more, follow Arm Treasure Data on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

Tom Treanor
Tom Treanor
Tom Treanor heads up marketing at Treasure Data. He focuses on marketing, martech, CDPs and digital marketing. Follow him on Twitter @RtMixMktg.
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