How To Learn From Your Mistakes In A Business

How To Learn From Your Mistakes In A Business

Jon BrodyJon Brody

July 15, 2021

Nobody sets out to fail. Businesses are always looking to improve performance, but sometimes your marketing strategies just don’t work. Maybe your competitors or customers did things you didn’t expect, and it ends up with you making marketing mistakes. What you learn when things go wrong is what will make you a better marketer and more successful in the future. 

Learning from past performances is how you do better moving forward. But what are you looking at to assess how well or how poorly your marketing campaign went? If you are only looking at the results, you might be missing out on key areas to improve. A “results-oriented” marketer is making determinations based solely on the outcome of marketing. While there is value in that, it’s only one piece of the marketing process. And it’s hard to learn from mistakes when you don’t know what those mistakes were.  

The Goal Is To Get Better Results

The goal of marketers should always be to get better results. Only looking at the outcome of a marketing campaign is like being a bad gambler. You are inferring whether or not you did a good job based only on those results. If you win a card game without really knowing what you did, what good is that? By the same token, if you lose, you won’t really know why until you look at how you played the game and whether you made good or bad choices along the way. 

Realize Your Results In Marketing Can Be Misleading

The problem is that the results you get might be misleading. Marketing is complex and variable, and unless you dig deeper and examine the inputs that go into the system, you won’t be able to maximize your outcomes and see the value of each decision you’ve made. By focusing on the system instead of the results, you can better pinpoint how you achieved the result you did and learn what exactly led to it. This is true whether your marketing campaign was a success or a failure. You might do well in the short term and still have a bad strategy. You also might be experiencing poor results in the short term, yet you have the right strategy. 

Embrace Making Mistakes

The bottom line is a results-oriented strategy, where the input is not as important as the outcome, is not the best strategy for improvement. If you want to continually outperform yourself compared to what you’ve done in the past, an understanding of what it means to be results-oriented is key. 

Use Ladder’s 80/20 Tool

A marketing system that allows experimentation and embraces making mistakes is essential to building a better system. Taking risks and thinking outside the box are keys to innovation and advancement. But they do involve setbacks and taking a step back from time to time. At Ladder, we recommend that you use an 80/20 rule, where you budget 20% of your media expenditures on experimentation. Part of learning and improving involves testing new things that may or may not work. The reality is, you will fail more than you will succeed in your tests, but you’ll almost never obtain that big breakthrough performance without experimentation. 

The important piece to this is that when you see a test that works, you will know why. At that point, all you have to do is begin scaling it up. That’s where you’ll find the most value. With 20% of the budget going toward experimentation, you can put the other 80% into optimizing and doing iterations of your preexisting best performing campaigns and work. This strategy allows you to make mistakes and still win.

Focus On Whether Your Strategy Is Solid

Shifting your mindset from one that only looks at results to one that understands that the system is probably more important than the results is key to learning and improving on past marketing campaigns. Emotional gamblers are the ones who always end up losing the most. This is also true with marketers and business owners. When you get overly excited about your positive results or too defeated and depressed because of your bad ones, you will tend to react in the same manner as an emotional gambler. An emotional gambler means you are gambling poorly with your marketing systems. 

What you should be focusing on in your successful marketing campaigns is whether or not the strategy was the right one (or whether you were just lucky) and what did you learn from employing that strategy. When your campaign fails, instead of being upset about the results, look at the system and determine whether or not you made a mistake in your strategy. Find out what the weak point was so you can work on improving it. This process, unlike being only results-oriented, will set you up for success.

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