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So many times businesses fail to gain momentum on their marketing because they want every campaign to be flawless. When a campaign takes an unintended left turn, a business becomes hesitant to try again.
While you should do everything you can within reason to avoid failures, missteps in marketing are inevitable.
Some time ago, we published an article about an email campaign we launched where instead of referring to people by name such as “Dear John” we instead referenced them by macro as in “Dear [First Name].” It was a real bummer for us and we ended up sending an apology to the people that were affected. But then a weird thing happened. People started writing us back. They told us how funny they thought the mistake was. And I mean funny in a laughing way, not funny in a “you’re fired” way.
This was the very definition of lemonade springing forth from lemons.
What that taught us was to fail gracefully. Because the important thing isn’t that failures happen, but what happens after the failure.
I want to share three of our recent failures so that you can (hopefully) laugh along with us and perhaps learn from our mistakes so you don’t make your own. Or if you do make mistakes, you can learn to pick yourself up and keep going.
Mistake #1: The Disappearing Voicemail
At some point in the past few weeks we noticed that we were getting fewer voicemails to our office line. We don’t get a lot of voicemails to begin with because our clients can reach us in a variety of ways, but still it seemed kind of odd. We didn’t put two and two together for a while until a new client told us that he needed to talk to us but didn’t like having to wait through our voicemail message.
As it turned out, from the time someone dialed our phone number to the time that they got the beep to record, one minute and 15 seconds had elapsed. That might not seem like a lot while I mention it, but try to sit there waiting and see how long it seems then.
We realized that we had created a barrier with our message.
We actually keep scripts of our voicemail messages and change them periodically. This time we reduced the wording by half, but the end result was still pretty long.
That’s when we got creative. We called our telephone company and asked them to change the number of rings before our voicemail service picked up.
The net result is that from first ring to voicemail beep is now just over 30 seconds. That’s quite a reduction.
The lesson is that sometimes the silent messages you receive are just as important as the loud ones.
Mistake #2: Email From Me, But Not Me
Yesterday we sent out an email campaign to our customers letting them know about our podcast. We wanted to get a few episodes out before announcing it and when we hit episode 18, we decided the time was right.
We spent a week organizing our customer list into groups and wrote about half a dozen different emails to coincide with the needs and disposition of the different groups. We then segmented further because roughly half of the people on the list have their projects managed by Carol Lynn and half of them by me.
In essence I would send out half the emails to each segment and Carol Lynn would do the same.
Simple. Simple. Simple.
Except for one thing. Because of a single bad keystroke, all messages were sent out with Carol Lynn as the sender. Even the messages that were signed by me.
The net result was that people started to respond to me, but replying to her address.
Fortunately half of the list (Carol Lynn’s side) delivered just fine. The other half took it all in stride and no harm was done. We had a few laughs with anyone that mentioned it and didn’t bring it up to anyone that didn’t.
The lesson is that no matter how much you plan, something may go wrong and you just have to accept it and move forward.
Mistake #3: What’s My Name?
This last one is weird and unique, but I figured I’d mention it here because you never know when a mistake or failure will take place and what form that mistake or failure will take.
Yes. A puppet.
I know what you’re thinking, but it’s a cool show. You should watch.
I was nervous about my appearance because I had planned on performing a bit of trickery. You see, I had secretly bought a puppet of my own and was going to pretend to turn into a puppet live on-air and then do the entire interview as a puppet.
So I planned. And I rehearsed. And I planned some more. I didn’t tell Janet, Lisa or Kimmy what I was dong because I wanted it to be a surprise and for their reaction to be real.
The gag went over great. They loved it and I’m sure their audience got a real kick out of it.
So where was the failure?
Well, as it turns out, at the beginning of the show, Janet’s internet went out. Just as we started to get going and right before my reveal. It was just Kimmy and me doing some back and forth banter.
So I panicked a bit.
Eventually, Janet came back on, but in my nervous state when I got to saying my name, I mispronounced it.
Seriously. You would think that after 43 years of practice, I could get my own name out, but nope.
So Ralph M. Manerna went on to turn into a puppet and all was well after that.
The lesson is that when you screw up, just keep moving. You can’t hit the undo button in real life and neither can Mr. Manerna.
So the title promises that you can improve your marketing by tapping into your failures. That’s a title that I should probably qualify better by saying that you can improve your marketing by accepting your failures because at the end of the day, some failures can’t be undone and you just have to live with them.
Wasting a lot of energy sorting out why the failure happened sometimes sucks the energy away from positive momentum.
Accept your failures. Embrace them. Learn from them.
Your marketing will be a lot better as a result.