Embracing Your Can’t-Do Spirit

How the Fear of Failure Can Fuel Your Next Big Idea

I’m convinced that my son, Wylie, is among the top 1% of children in the school district who can’t catch a football. It’s not entirely his fault. Cascarino hands have always been better suited for removing a stray piece of lint from an otherwise-pristine cardigan sweater than behaving as an asset on the playing field. But his is an affliction far more severe than a habitual case of the dropsies. It’s as if his hands have been temporarily replaced with tangerine-sized hunks of granite, sending the ball skyward in unpredictable trajectories that even the most skilled defensive backs couldn’t track down. Still, we always refuse to go inside until Wylie successfully hauls in one “long bomb,” even if it means missing a meal. The next day, he’s at it again, fueled not by the suggestion of practice making perfect, but going for it because the odds are never in his favor.

Whenever I invite someone from outside of the creative staff to a brainstorm, I’m often met with the excuse: “I’m not creative.” What they’re really saying is: “I’m afraid I won’t have any good ideas.” But the dirty little secret in the creative den is that we share that same fear. It’s not because we’re weak. It’s because we care. And that’s what gives us the courage to air out even the most miserable clunkers without apology. Because we know eventually, we’ll find our star. I have always believed that great ideas can come from anyone, regardless of job title. If the fear of failure has ever prevented you from contributing to the conversation, here’s some encouragement to bring you in off the ledge.

Crash the party

Many people perceive brainstorming sessions like entering a Thunderdome of quick-witted marketers spinning endless strands of box-office gold, the floor sagging under the weight of the team’s brilliance. I wish. While there are times when we can get a pretty good volley going, what we crave is the perspective of the outsider. That’s where you can add value to ideation, especially if you work in areas like sales, customer care, or relationship management where you have direct contact with the customer. And don’t wait for an invitation. If you have front-line insights you can bring back to the nest, speak up and you’ll get an enthusiastic welcome to the table or video conference.

Cross the line

When pitching an idea, it’s better to go too far and walk it back than not push your thinking beyond the comfort of the expected. That’s how Ilumya™, a treatment for plaque psoriasis, rose above the noise from no fewer than three competitors who have been dominating television advertising recently. Specifically, Ilumya went against the common narrative of showing happy patients post-treatment, choosing instead to expose the suffering of people burdened with tidying up the liberal dusting of dead skin flakes they’ve left behind. This graphic approach may have horrified the client at first; but it tactfully transports the viewer to the highest point of anxiety, allowing the company to make a more empathetic connection with their target market compared to the competition. This doesn’t mean the strangest ideas in the room are the best. But if something feels “a little out there” without abandoning what’s relevant to the audience, you’re probably onto something good.

Show your flaws 

I can’t think of a single band that emerged from their parents’ garages fully matured and ready for the big time. (Except Led Zeppelin. Zeppelin rules!) It takes the influence of each member to transform something from raw to refined. Ideas are never in final form at their inception. They’re always introduced partially baked, some slightly shimmering, while others nobody wants to stand downwind from. But foraging for the good bits is a natural part of ideation. And when the group isn’t expecting perfection, you develop the confidence to share, knowing that even your scraps contain some nutritional value.

Sharing this:
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Email
Print

Our Take

Nobody likes to hear people squawk about marketing. So, we wrote it all down for you.

Twice the Insights, Twice the Value

All successful companies are customer-obsessed. They know their customers and work hard to serve the needs they have today and those of tomorrow. The best companies have the humility to know that customers choose what products they buy or how to spend their time. They also know that customer loyalty is connected to customer satisfaction. Have I told you anything you haven’t heard before? Not yet. But I’m getting to my point, and it’s some of the best advice I have for business-to-business (B2B) companies.

Read Article »

Email Marketing Best Practices #3

We’ve reviewed best practices for approaching your audience and creative specific to email marketing (if you haven’t read them yet, I would 11/10 recommend). However, email marketing is only as successful as its foundation—the technical requirements behind the campaign.

Read Article »

Twice the Insights, Twice the Value

All successful companies are customer-obsessed. They know their customers and work hard to serve the needs they have today and those of tomorrow. The best companies have the humility to know that customers choose what products they buy or how to spend their time. They also know that customer loyalty is connected to customer satisfaction. Have I told you anything you haven’t heard before? Not yet. But I’m getting to my point, and it’s some of the best advice I have for business-to-business (B2B) companies.

Read Article »

Email Marketing Best Practices #3

We’ve reviewed best practices for approaching your audience and creative specific to email marketing (if you haven’t read them yet, I would 11/10 recommend). However, email marketing is only as successful as its foundation—the technical requirements behind the campaign.

Read Article »

Email Marketing Best Practices #2

social media and passed by something that caught your eye? No, of course not. Because the creative was written and designed to get your attention. And it worked. When a brand’s creative doesn’t connect with its target audiences, it results in unrealized ROI.

Read Article »

This website stores cookies on your computer.

These cookies are used to collect information about how you interact with our website and allow us to remember you.  We use this information in order to improve and customize your browsing experience and for analytics and metrics about our visitors both on this website and other media.  To find out more about the cookies we use see our privacy policy.