I heard this great phrase the other day “fail, learn, leap”.
Failure is, in my view the key to success. Take it away Michael…
Recently I have been reading The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. In it the author breaks down how people learn new skills. Much of it has to do with making mistakes and then adjusting and learning. At some point people make a real jump in their ability.
Failure is in.
Now why do I believe failure is so important at this time?
The world has changed and with that marketing needs to change. It’s no longer about shouting (i.e. it’s all about us – the charity). Its now about engagement (it’s all about you – the customer, the donor, the supporter).
To understand more read : http://ifundraiser.wordpress.com/2011/07/09/its-not-about-asking-for-money/
In a changing world you can do one of two things. You can stick to the old ways and ramp up the volume (which may work in the short term – which is a bit like shouting louder to someone who doesn’t understand your English). Or you can try a new approach.
The best way to adopt a new approach is to do something, make mistakes, learn, and try again.
And when something goes wrong, fails, you need to acknowledge it – don’t brush it under the carpet. The reason for this is it will help you make the next step towards success. So at a time when the world is changing so much we need to embrace failure.
So some months ago I talked Lucy Innovation who did a blog on a failure of mine. A campaign called What A Feeling by ActionAid. It failed but I still stand by its approach. You can read it here. http://sofii-foundation.blogspot.com/2011/09/can-we-say-f-word-please.html
The take out was the campaign had failed. Therefore in some minds, QED, the approach didn’t work. Final. The irony is when something fails people can do one of two things. They can go back to what they did before. Or you can learn and try again.
Learn and Leap
So what did I learn from this failure?
1. First get to know the problem. I realise I hadn’t fully understood the problem. I knew the symptoms – rates of donor recruitment were in decline across every channel. But I didn’t really know why.
Now I know. And once you know the nature of the problem you can start to work on addressing it. In the case of declining acquisition read books like the fantastic Sticky Marketing by Grant Leboff. If you lead a fundraising team you need to spend time understanding how things are changing (that’s the role of a “Director”!).
2. Second you need to be ready to fail. Have it built into your campaign. Have a long term view. Too many fundraisers are expected to pull rabbits out of hats first time round. If you aren’t given that scope your first failure will hit a brick wall and stop there. You don’t go on to learn and leap.
3. And finally a new approach needs a new way of measuring. In this new world where shouting is out and engagement is in you can’t use ROI or even Facebook likes. No really. Check out the blogs by David Meerman Scott http://www.webinknow.com/2011/10/roi.html and The BrandBuilder Blog by Oliver Blanchard http://thebrandbuilder.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/social-media-and-return-on-investment-some-clarity .
I’m already applying these learnings.
So in my mind failure and success are part of the same journey.The first step is recognise when you fail. Then you will learn and leap. Failure is key to succeeding. Be ready for it and embrace it.