“Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.” This quote from wise Alfred to a defeated Bruce Wayne in the movie Batman Begins illustrates the beauty of failure. Whether you are Batman or a marketer (or both…why not, right?), our successes can often start with failure. But it is how we deal with those failures that determines whether we ultimately succeed. So, how do you cope with a marketing failure and move forward towards success? Here are five tips, no Batmobile required:
1. Apologize (if necessary). First, it’s important to recognize that some marketing mishaps will require an apology to one or more of your audiences. For example, did you post something insensitive on social media? Or was there a mix up with a special promotional offer for your loyal customers that caused some to not be able to claim the offer? Both of these examples and plenty of others can bring ire your way. Rather than remaining silent, admit to your brand’s mistake, apologize to those impacted and find a resolution. Internally, examine what went wrong with people or processes so that you can aim to avoid similar failures in the future.
2. Differentiate. Every business has its competitors. And especially in more established industries where there are many competing businesses, everyone risks sounding the same. Sometimes marketing campaigns or initiatives fail because they are virtually indistinguishable from the others in their space. Examine your marketing with a critical eye. Do you look and sound the same as your competitors? Instead, hone in on what makes you different. What can you say or promise to your customers that is unique to your business? Try putting this messaging front and center to turn a failure into a win.
3. Test. The previous tip about differentiation alludes to an important point about marketing failures; it may not be immediately apparent why your marketing failed. So, it’s up to you to uncover the root cause. Let’s say that you sent out an email regarding a special promotional offer and the email didn’t perform the way you hoped or expected. There are several different possibilities for the failure. Split, or A/B, testing your email may help – and from subject lines to designs, there are a number of things you can test. Also, experiment with different channels. If you used email the first time without success, would SMS marketing work better? Or would the offer be more appealing to a different segment of your audience?
4. Increase the value. Sometimes you have to sweeten the deal to avoid a marketing failure. This can happen in many ways, depending on what is failing. Using our promotional offer email example from above, perhaps the discount you provided isn’t enough to tempt recipients or it needs to be paired with other perks, like free shipping. If it’s a piece of gated content that’s failing, consider your landing page. Are you asking for too much information in exchange for what your audience feels they are getting in return? Try to minimize the length of the form to maximize value. If your social media metrics aren’t where you would like them to be, determine how you can add value to your followers. It could be exclusive content they can only access on social or perhaps less salesy and more engaging content than what you have been posting.
5. Give it time. Patience is a virtue, but it can be in short supply for marketers who need to constantly prove performance and ROI. It’s important to remember that some marketing strategies and tactics take time to generate results. So, before you declare your efforts a marketing failure, ask yourself whether enough time has elapsed that you can accurately judge its effectiveness. A tactic like SEO, for example, can take time before you start seeing results. Building a social media following is another area where you aren’t likely to see the needle moving overnight. As you plan your marketing initiatives, be sure that you are being realistic with your timeframes so you have a clearer idea of when to expect success.