3 Things We Learned From Our Last Failure

Let’s be honest, most marketers don’t talk about our failures. In most cases, we share our success stories, because that’s what we feel good about and what we think matters the most to you. But, the truth is we actually learn the most from our failures.  And the more we learn, the more knowledge we have to share with you.

Our last failure was technically a marketing success, we exceeded our goals, and sold more than we expected- but we still consider it a failure because we could have done better, and it wasn’t our best work. As a result, we learned three really valuable things.

1 | Expectations

We like to give our clients everything they want. But in this case, we did too much. We didn’t set realistic expectations, and instead found ourselves chasing lofty goals the client had created for us.  A very real part of our job as professionals is to be clear and lay out the realistic expectations for your project upfront. We failed to do so and it caused a lot of headaches and stress on both sides of the table.  Even though we were technically successful- we still felt deflated and like we failed- all because the clients expectations weren’t met.  The knowledge we gained from going through this trying process was that we needed to update our project management, and overall process. Which is exactly what we did. We hired a great project manager – hi Liz! And we re-vamped our entire process so that we are always on the same page when it comes to expectations, deliverables and outcomes.

2 | Red Flags

Sometimes, a project creates little red flags of warning – perhaps the client is too demanding, or isn’t interested in our expert advice, or maybe they don’t care enough to put in the work that is needed. No matter the case, when these red flags appear- for either the client or the agency- they need to be addressed and not ignored. On this project, we ignored the red flags that the expectations kept changing, and that the client kept changing their minds about what direction to go- mid way through the implementation. And that was a mistake. What we learned was that we need to address our red flags, and even if it means that we cannot continue working with a client,  we need to be honest about that. Implementing this new strategy has made all of our client relationships stronger.

3 | Documentation & Communication

We learned a big one about tracking everything with this project. As client expectations changed and they asked us to shift focus mid project, we learned that we needed to track and document everything, for the clients sake as well as ours. Things changed so quickly that both of us lost sight of the bigger picture and our goals. This failure led to the implementation of a new, higher standard of client tracking and communication. Remember Liz, our project manager I mentioned before? She is in charge of documenting everything for the client, including weekly follow ups, total project status documents and detailed reports.

Overall, we learned a great deal and our failures led to some really positive changes in our client policies, processes and project management, and that’s something to feel good about.