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Be prepared to fail, and fail again

Ideas generation in the marketing minefield

Failure is something we all want to avoid at all costs, both from a personal and a business standpoint.  But, if looked at from a different perspective, failure can be a learning exercise. Because, really, how can you learn without making mistakes? When it comes to ideas generation, learning how to fail successfully and accepting it as just another part of the process could, over time, lead to greater wins.

In B2B marketing, we are driven by results, metrics, conversions, new followers, new leads, the bottom line. With all this pressure to produce measurable results, it’s not surprising marketers fear failure.

“Being relentless about staying focused on your effort instead of your results is incredibly difficult, but achievable and necessary for high levels of success.”

Jason Selk, Forbes

Embrace the idea that you might fail

Instead of fearing failure, approach ideas generation fully prepared. Preparation is key to ensuring that whatever the eventual outcome, the ideas process is insightful, considered and focused on answering the brief. Many marketeers fear that getting things wrong early in their career will affect future prospects. But, in fact, understanding why an idea hasn’t worked and learning from it is much more likely to lead to greater success in other projects. Reflection is equally as important. If an idea is canned and deemed a failure, try and understand why it hasn’t worked.

“Without reflection and preparation failure can be a nightmare, but if you can reflect and learn, then if something goes wrong it isn’t a problem.”

Gary Bramall, Zoopla CMO

Remember those metrics

The marketing world is full of measurements. So, use these capabilities not only to measure the success of a campaign, but also to test and learn different methods of ideas generation. Embrace these learnings and focus time on techniques that are tried and tested.

As Bramall suggests, however, there is always room for a risky idea or two in the mix. He operates a 70-20-10 model, in which marketers should base 70% of their ideas generation on methods known to be successful, 20% on those tested but with variable results and 10% on the crazy, out-there, ‘risky’ ideas – most of which will fail, but with the odd one unique breakthrough.

So, when approaching ideas generation don’t treat failure as failure, treat it as a learning opportunity so you can quickly redirect your thought process and tap into what does work. Also, more importantly, learn to admit defeat. Not everything is going to work, and however invested you are in an idea, if it’s not going to benefit the business in question, then scrap it and think again.

Enjoy the endless possibilities

“As much as you hate to admit defeat – and as much as you want to succeed – you can’t let your perfectionism sabotage you.”

Rikita Puri

Every ideas generation experience should not only be valuable in terms of producing the best business outcome, but it should also be an investment in your own team – who will take the learnings forward in the next job and know that failure is, in fact, an option.

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