Learning from Failure?

Fail fast. Fail often.

I’ve heard this mantra a number of times. Most recently from Alex Campbell, CEO of Vibes Media when he addressed the “Rising Stars” luncheon of the

Kansas City Direct Marketing Association


Usually from successful entrepreneurs, like Campbell.

And the concept seems so much more powerful when it’s proudly presented from the pillow of success.

It’s a bit more difficult to digest when you’re wallowing about in the wake of a failure.

Trying to figure out why the test package delivered a lower response. Or why that email generated fewer clicks. Or why those clicks didn’t convert.

Success is so much easier to swallow. And so much more fun to sell.

Granted, you can learn from failure.

Like the highly successful test we recently rolled out. Initial response blew past projections. Unfortunately the follow-up - which we hadn’t tested - generated less than a third of the prior year’s effort...more than erasing the early success.

Is there a lesson there? Sure.

Several, actually.

Not the least of which is a lesson in humility. A prerequisite course, if you’re going to learn from failure.

But it’s funny, isn’t it? It’s the awards for successes we keep on our walls. We hardly ever frame our certificates from the school of hard knocks.