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Are you a marketing failure?

Mar 11, 2022

Yes. Yes I am.  And I’m proud of it. 

Acknowledging your marketing failures is a healthy part of finding your way to the right strategy for YOUR unique product or service.

Recognising failure enables fundamental, existential questions like:

  • Why you, why now? 
  • Are you positioned well to help and support your customers on their journey? 
  • Is your messaging clear enough and are you speaking to the right audience? 
  • Do you have enough real proof to signal real quality and real value? 

It’s a very uncomfortable area for businesses, consultants and agencies alike.  In some ways, it’s much easier to throw some more money into another campaign.

But failure doesn't have to be an F word. 

Let’s get used to saying it. Ahh Failure. Come on, say it with me.

Failure, Failure,  Failure. 

We’ve all failed many many times with our marketing efforts. Failure is part of the process. 

Failure is our friend - when we can SEE it!

It’s one thing to learn from failure - WHEN you KNOW you’ve failed.

But the issue most small businesses have with their digital marketing is they don’t know enough to identify what actually constitutes a nano-failure. Wow there’s a concept.

It’s easy to see epic fails like “omg someone left the AdWords running on the wrong budget overnight and we spent the whole month's budget in one day.” Yeah ok, probably avoidable that one. 


We had an unhappy customer and they wrote us a bad review and we got defensive and then it turned into a blame game that went viral.

Never forget those ones…big lessons.

However, the most costly failures are often the subtle, more intangible aspects of branding and marketing - the things that can sometimes be invisible, those nano-failures, so to speak.

As the name suggests, they are often SERIOUSLY small. 

  • A piece of content with the wrong voice and tone, 
  • a Linkedin post with way too many hashtags
  • a set of targeted keywords that is way too vast to focus down on your actual niche.

Getting to the bottom of “the invisibles” though is not as straightforward as it looks. 

When Edison was trying to make the light bulb the story goes he failed 999 times. However Edison had it easy. He knew he failed every time he failed - because he didn’t get a light.

In digital marketing, it's more subtle. IF you have the right advice and proper analysis you’ll be able to pick out the dud moments or worse recognise the need to scrap an entire marketing campaign. 


Failure comes in many forms and some of it is epic - but the nano-failures of digital marketing can only be avoided when you have awareness and advice founded on strong branding. Experimentation is part of a discipline. 

You start with a theorem, then you form a hypothesis (through better listening and open conversations.) Then you conduct an experiment to test your hypothesis. 

If you don’t have a theorem and you don't have specific hypothesis you don’t have an experiment and are therefore just indulging in wishful thinking (which Einstein called insanity).

If you can tackle all of THESE things you may just avoid silent F bombs making an unrecognised impact on your business.

So, is what you are serving up good for your audience? Have you asked them what they think? 

Don’t fail in silence. Fail out loud. Celebrate failure. Befriend failure. Test. Learn. Repeat. But first, let’s start with a proper understanding of what failure is, at ALL levels, especially nano-failure in all of its sneaky silent forms.