« Get your TV on | Main | Why Board members need to ask the tough questions about social media »

April 04, 2011


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference When failure is cheap, why not give it a go?:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Ardath Albee

Hi David,

I like where you're going with this. One of the things that must change along with the willingness to create and test out more ideas is the willingness to accept that some of them won't work and may not be measurable. You've talked about this a lot and I think it's key.

Unfortunately, that old mindset of requiring every campaign to produce positive ROI is still linked to dollars and cents instead of the benefits to learning, growing engagement and extending reach.

Instead of measuring the ROI separately on each idea, I think we need to start looking at what occurs based on their use in combination. More of an evolution than a one shot effort - which is what I think you're getting at.


You're conveying a few messages here David, and I think you're dead on with every one of them.

What's the most important part of this post? Well, it's all important, but the most important thing I'd say is the idea that failure doesn't kill you.

When it comes to business and marketing, what kills you is not trying enough.

Apply to one school and you're likelihood of "death" is high. Apply to a thousand and suddenly you can't lose, there's just no way.


It costs the average person a few hundred bucks, along with some consumer-grade electronics and technical know-how - to get as much attention today as the big players do.

"Throw enough at the wall that something sticks" is pretty much how the Internet works. Our attention spans are weak online, and people spend a lot of time there.

Failure to a marketer these days is being ignored or misinterpreted into an instant PR crisis.

More generally speaking, as far as public discourse goes, one should never interpret something as "failure" when we KNOW WE ARE RIGHT.

To get positive outcomes in anything you hope to achieve, you must possess the right levels of persistence, patience, and proficiency. This is the only way to success in anything you do.


I'm one of those guys who is currently doing what you’re posting about. I live in the UK and failure is not tolerated here at all. But I went against this very British grain, as well as against my family and friends and FAILED.

Came out the other end saying “failure isn’t fatal”.

From having a good idea, I could sit on it for years, worrying whether it will fail, and if it does fail how I can live life with this failure on my back.

Worrying what other people would think about me, worrying about what my family and friends would think, especially what they would think if I was so stupid to launch another idea….

Or I could just launch it!

See what happens, fail quickly and cheaply. I personally will spend around 4 hours online doing desk research, buy a domain, make a logo, throw a quick website up and launch it (or a prototype, or even at times, pretend I have the offering/product). Then I monitor the feedback, buzz, comments, likes or lack of – and speak to as many people as I can. Face to face, over the phone, anything.

If it doesn’t work, I add that experience to my wealth of knowledge and use it to move onto the next project.

Failure isn’t fatal.

Pamela Cargill

The Culture of Failure, like Scott above me points out, is also view differently by different cultures. For instance, in California, especially in the Bay Area with the prevalent entrepreneurial culture, failure is a right of passage. You have not proven yourself until you have put yourself out there and failed.

Now, with ideas in marketing, the flood of branded content into the marketplace is creating the need to develop more effective methods of engagement. As more brands market themselves online with frequent branded content, consumers will become info-fatigued and only the producers who are providing the value that leads to transactions will succeed.

David Meerman Scott

Wow - I love these comments. Thank so much.

Ardath - "requiring every campaign to produce positive ROI" is one of the most harmful things there is in marketing today!

Tanner - I apologize for the length as I did not have enough time to make the post shorter... (I'm quoting someone but I forget who - Mark Twain perhaps?)

Adam - exactly. Passion drives excellence. Lack of passion is failure.

Scott -- "Failure isn’t fatal." I love this quote!

Pamela - it is indeed interesting to see differences in geography. I am currently in Australia on a speaking tour and am talking about "fear" and "failure" a great deal. There is a real mindset shift that needs to happen here.


Greg Digneo


I actually have a blog post written for tomorrow about a "fail cheap" experience that I had.

This past weekend, I wanted to test an offer for potential prospects. I set up a landing page using Unbounce and used Linkedin's advertising platform to send targeted visitors to the landing page. After 2 days, no one signed up for the offer.

I spent very little time and money to realize that this offer might not be a good idea.

In the old days it would have taken me at least a few hundred dollars and a month. Now I could draw the same conclusions in one weekend for $25.

aluminium kozijnen

I agree this.. Electronic files very safe compared to others.. Then this is great idea we can easily search that applications in that online.. Thanks for this information sharing with us..


Good post David. What I find is that most people are followers and terrified of criticism and the stigma of failure. As soon as something is proven they are there but until the road is clearly mapped out they wait in the wings.

We live in a culture of fear and worry rather than the entrepreneurship that is required.


Brendan Ziolo

Great post once again. I agree that more and more marketing teams just need to try things to see what works. The other aspect of this is that quite often companies spend too much time making things perfect before launching. It's so easy to fix or recreate that getting content posted or programs launched sooner rather than later is key.

David Meerman Scott

Great effort Greg. Thanks for sharing your "failure"

Frank - Indeed many people are terrified of failure. It takes a mindset shift to get over that fear.

Brendan - exacelty... If you misspell "exactly" you can just fix it.

Penny Haywood Calder

This chimes so much with what I'm learning doing Nikki Pilkington's 30 day blog challenge - she sends inspiration for blogs each day and I 'report' back to @nikkipilkington on Twitter using #30dayblog in the tweet with a link to my bright shiny new blog post.
Before this - and I'm only on day 4 - I would never have contemplated doing a blog a day. Having published lots of company newsletters and magazines before the online tools killed the corporate publishing game, I was stuck on perfection - with the fear of having to fund an entire re-print if I got it wrong. Check sources, proof it, spend time on the pix and design.
I do still proof and check sources, but the fear has gone. As you say, it's so easy to correct online.
As a bonus, Nikki's course is giving me 30 pieces of inspiration to pop into a list to keep me going when I have a flat day.
Plus I think there's something beautiful in the simplicity of reporting back via Twitter - a powerful training model.
I have no commercial interest in Nikki - just grateful.

Ken Munsterman

I completely agree, and very interesting insight! Great post!


Thanks for a great article. I just launched my online nutritional brain supplement http://www.vavalertusa.com and with no real track record, it's about plastering your brand out there in as many places as possible knowing that the numbers will play out to where a few will stick! The results are paying off but it's a lengthy educational process and one that requires tremendous patience, both worth getting good at!


Angelica Maduell

I agree on the points you're making here. On the post about Poke The Box you mention Google embracing this culture of failure. When I'm browsing other blogs I always see criticism of Google's failures, especially when they are launching a new project (which said blogs are usually predicting will fail).

It's great that some companies are embracing this, but I think there needs to be a paradigm shift within the media before more will jump on board. It would be even better for society as a whole to let go of the limiting beliefs they hold about failure, as Scottsbarlow above has.

What is your take on outside criticism of a business's culture of failure? Do you think it holds the company back in regards to media relations?

Material Handling Equipment

The mass marketing approach works well for some business models and does no good for others. Skilled marketers who know the ins and outs of their business know when to use this approach and when not to use it. Mass following on Twitter, for instance, will gain you more followers but the quality of the leads will be questionable.

NotCathy@As Seen on TV Life

I like your article, interesting and have a good insight. I think failure is everywhere, but it depends on how you handle it.. keep safe!

As Seen On TV Shoppers

Well written post and have a good insight.. Failure is my greatest weakness. Bu we need to accept the fact in this world failure is every where no one can hide it..:)

The comments to this entry are closed.


Your email address:

Powered by FeedBlitz

follow me

David Meerman Scott books

I want to speak at your next event!


David Meerman Scott e-books

David's iPhone and iPad apps

Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 12/2004