The biggest fear you have in your company today is making a bad decision.  In the corporate world a bad decision can wipe millions off your share price, cost you your clients, get you fired, or maybe all of the above.  We are programmed to fear making mistakes.  When prehistoric man made a mistake it could have cost them their life.  Fear is natural.

The problem with fear is that it makes us want to play safe.  Playing safe in business means falling behind; it means that you aren’t innovating.  Playing safe in the corporate world can wipe millions off your share price, cost you your clients, get you fired, or maybe all of the above.  We are programmed to fear making mistakes.  But every now and then we need to put ourselves on the line and risk it.

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
George Bernard Shaw

Progress comes from trying new things.  If we don’t try new things we will never change, never improve and, as a business, never be more successful.  Making mistakes in marketing can be quick and, thankfully, due to the nature of digital marketing it can often be fixed.Innovation Adoption Lifecycle

Today we all talk about Big Data.  We have more information than ever before and whether you are a business professional making decisions about your company’s strategy or a consumer wondering what to buy you can use the endless reports, focus groups or spread sheets to help you.

But does this help?

Not every time.  You can only report on what has happened historically and make assumptions based on that environment and those sets of circumstances.  But what about today?  What about your client or customer base?  How will they react?  No matter how much data you have about historical events you can’t guarantee what will happen in the future.

Operational Decision Making IBM

Here is how you can make your mistakes… and learn from them fast.

1.  Have a hunch and research it.
Having an idea is the hardest part of this process.  Spend the majority of your time finding out what you want to achieve and what you can do to get there.  You will find that you have a hunch of what might work.  This idea may be unique and creative, logical and straightforward or stolen from someone else.  Whatever you think might work; write it down.  Then do your research.  Ask people what they think of your idea get them to pick holes in it, improve it and tweak it.  Have you got case studies where it has worked in the past?  Learn from these.

2.  Roll out your idea.
Even if the odds are stacked against you – if you are convinced that your idea will work – you should go with it.
Make it happen.  Be bold.  Don’t test this idea in such an isolated way that it is bound to fail, or could appear to fail because it won’t impact enough people to see measurable results.  You need to gamble here.  Go big enough to get the information you need to know how you can improve your idea or kill it.  If you can, start to A/B test – where you run two similar ideas in tandem and find out which is best.

3.  Set your deadlines and know when to cash-out.
Know when your “best” ideas need to be killed off.  This might be painful for you as you may have invested, time, effort and credibility in this effort.  It is better to know when to stop than to carry on regardless.

4.  Kaizen 改善.
Kaizen is Japanese for “improvement” or “change for the best”.  It refers to a philosophy or practice that focuses upon continuous improvement of processes in manufacturing, engineering, business management or any process.  At this point in your process you need to be refining what you have started out with.  Continue to optimise your marketing strategy based on the feedback and the data at your disposal.  If you are A/B testing then keep running with the most successful idea and create another test to see if you can further improve on what you have done.

5.  Go again.
Come up with a new idea.  Roll with it.  Test it out and continue to improve on it.  Don’t stop innovating.  You will die if you stop (metaphorically).  You will get fired if you stop (literally).  You will not be successful unless you try new things.

 

You can either make a decision based purely on data – or you can make a decision and improve it based on the data.

What would you you do: Follow the numbers or go with your gut?