For some, failure can mean the end of the road on some activity, venture or goal. But that is only true if you give up and just stop. For me—and for many others like me—failure in some area can act as a valuable learning experience that further enables success. This new series of blogs illustrates, with my own experience and observation, how learning from failure is possible.
The Video Bungle
In 2013 I was advised to create a series of cartoon videos that acted as advertisements for my company’s product, Pipeliner CRM. It seemed like a fantastic idea: we would create these highly entertaining cartoon videos as a series of episodes—1, 2, 3 and 4—post them on YouTube, send out some emails promoting them, then sit back and watch them go viral. Interest in our product would soar and we’d watch the leads flood in the door.
The first episode looked as if it might do it, as it topped 1,000 views and eventually made it to over 2,100. But that’s where it stopped—it certainly didn’t make it to the hundreds of thousands or millions that everyone, including me, thought it would.
The 2nd, 3rd and 4th episodes didn’t even do as well as the 1st. The 2nd made it to just over 1,000 views, and the 3rd and the 4th didn’t even make it to 1,000.
Needless to say this was a very expensive disappointment. What happened?
Lack of Brand
First of all, Pipeliner CRM, especially at that time, was far from an established brand. Virtually no one knew who we were. If we had been a known name, viewers might have shared the videos just based on that fact. But the videos themselves weren’t powerful enough to overcome a name no one knew.
Lack of Campaign
The only way to make up for that lack of brand would have been to buy the needed exposure for these videos: that is, pay to get them placed into as many high-profile channels as possible. That’s actually what was needed. That campaign would have been the way to actually put those expensive videos to work for us, and might have resulted in leads and sales that to some degree paid us back.
But we had spent all of our available funds—and then some—just to produce the videos. We had also dedicated numerous staff plus a production company to get them made. Then we had hung all of our hopes on the gamble that people would love the videos enough to share them and cause them to go viral. As with many long-odds gambles, it didn’t pay off.
The considerable cost would have been far better spent on lead methods that we knew worked for us, to obtain more leads.
What lesson did we learn from this, that we could pass onto you?
If I had it to do again, I would research and calculate the cost of promoting the videos, and ensure I had to the money to fully utilize them. The cost of getting items like this properly promoted is almost 4 times the production cost—which is what we would have needed to have in place to utilize them correctly. In other words, I’d make sure I had to money to actually get the job done.
So the lesson for everyone is: make sure you take all costs into account. Make sure that, in the end, you can push all the way through.
The one thing we weren’t wrong about in making the original videos was the importance of this medium to marketing in this industry today. Despite the failure of our initial videos, we did not cast aside our dedication to this medium. Today we have more product-oriented videos than anyone else in our industry.
Of course the other lesson we learned from this failure was to make highly impactful videos at lower cost. We have now done this—our videos are now much more communicative and are far more effective in explaining our product and its benefits. You can see one of our latest videos here.
What have you learned from your failures? I’d love to hear about it! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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