Why we all need a Wall of Failures.

 Photo courtesy of PR Week Magazine

I’m somewhat ashamed to say this, since I’m such a fan of P&G, but until just recently, I had no idea that Procter & Gamble had a ”Wall of Failures” at their headquarters. I’d been there in the 90’s, when I was working for an agency that handled several of their brands. Unfortunately, the idea to create a tribute to “the one that bombed” didn’t arrive until around 2018. It’s a great idea and I regret having missed it during my visits.

The reason I mention P&G and their wall is because this is a company that I truly admire. A while back, we talked about the 5 Ps of the Marketing Mix and, along what that, the importance of positioning and branding. Now, here is a company, in my opinion, that knows a thing or two on the subject... and even they have had spectacular failures!

Let's face it, we all make mistakes and when it comes to marketing, which is an extremely complex discipline, those mistakes are bound to happen... even when you're putting in your best efforts. P&G is a company that loves research and testing. Even then, they've had products that didn't make it.  And, they've had a lot of time to learn, as well. Remember the brand that launched this packaged goods giant, Ivory Soap? The soap that floats because it's "99 and 44/100ths percent pure?  That was the late 19th Century!

Now, I may be a bit biased — having spent nearly a decade of my agency days contributing to the messaging that would launch more than a handful of P&G brands — but in my humble opinion, no one does it better than they do. The agency never collaborated with them on a launch that didn't involve in-depth research, both qualitative and quantitative. Constant concept testing, as well. Which is why "99 and 44/100ths percent" of their new product launches are successful. And for that reason, I think there’s something to be learned from the fact that they feel the need for a "Wall of Failures."

Here’s a company that currently manages somewhere around 70 brands.  And, sure, they’ve had some notable “missteps” (to be kind), like Fabreze Scentstories, Clairol Touch of Yogurt Shampoo, and their Charmin Spacemaker, but their batting average is still pretty extraordinary.

Adobe Workfront, in an article, “8 Reasons why your marketing campaign failed,”  pretty much sums up my point here: “ After weeks of planning, strategizing, and creating your marketing campaign, it falls flat after it launches. What do you do now? Throw in the towel? Look for a new career path? Of course not. Failure is a reality of content marketing and we’re all bound to experience it at some point. What’s important is how you respond. Figure out what went wrong so you can make necessary adjustments.” According to Workfront, there are eight reasons for failure:

  1. You Didn’t Identify the Proper Persona
  2. You Had Insufficient Research
  3. You Didn’t Have Correct or Realistic Success Metrics
  4. You Created the Wrong Message for Your Audience
  5. You Delivered Content at the Wrong Time of the Buyer’s Journey
  6. You Didn’t Give the Campaign Enough Time
  7. You Failed to Meet Regulatory or Brand Compliance Guidelines
  8. Your Product Fell Short of Your Claims

That’s a pretty good list. After all, we marketers now live in an age where, thanks to marketing automation and technologies, making mistakes is, frankly, getting increasingly difficult. Numbers 1-8 above are, well, easy. In fact, it's getting to where not identifying your persona, creating the wrong message at the wrong time, and targeting the wrong individual is nearly impossible. So, given all of the resources available to ensure that you DON'T fail, why does it still happen? Maybe the reason why is also the reason why we all need a Wall of Failures. As Henry Ford is quoted on the wall as saying, “the only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”

And maybe that needs to be 9. You didn’t learn from your mistakes.

About Bank Marketing Center

Here at BankMarketingCenter.com, our goal is to help you with that vital, topical, and compelling communication with customers; messaging that will help you build trust, relationships, and revenue. In short, build your brand. To view our campaigns, both print and digital, visit BankMarketingCenter.com. Or, you can contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or email at nreynolds@bankmarketingcenter.com.