Join Brad Batesole for an in-depth discussion in this video Handling failed experiments, part of Marketing Foundations: Growth Hacking.
- It's inevitable. At some point an idea, a product feature, or even a growth strategy will fail. How you handle that failure is really important. It's really easy to sweep a failure under the rug, chock it up to series of bad decisions, and move on. And while moving on is great, if you don't take time to analyze the failure, you'll never truly learn from it. And as a growth hacker, learning from the data is a top priority. There's really no excuse not to learn. Data is so accessible now that every failure should get a thorough debrief.
Find the root of the problem even if you're working solo. You still need to walk through everything from start to finish. Not only do you learn from your mistakes but you'll also get better at recognizing the warning signs before failure happens. To get you thinking about how to approach failure, let's look at some common reasons things fail. One that I see often is that the data was misinterpreted. When analyzing a set of data, survey results, or even sales information, mistakes happen. Growth hacking is all about executing based on the data.
The data is the road map. And if you've got a bad set of numbers or an incorrect correlation, your map will send you in the wrong direction. This is often preventable by double-checking the data, reevaluating the collection technique, or checking for outliers that may have skewed everything. Another common point of failure is misunderstanding the customer. As marketers, we like to think we're pretty good at understanding our customer. And we probably do have a strong grasp of who they are and what they want. But it's really easy to introduce bias when we come up with ideas.
It's so easy to take something we want personally and project that need onto our customer. We'll make it something they need. And maybe it's something our customer actually asked for, but we didn't fully think about how it impacts everything collectively. More often than not, customers aren't really thinking about the big picture, either. They have a specific need, and it's your job to take a step back and explore how important it really is. Next, we have failure due to subpar execution. Execution is incredibly important.
The best ideas can only get so far. And if things break down in the execution, the idea will fail. Consider reviewing all the steps of how the project went. Where were the roadblocks? What in the execution failed? And how will you resolve that in the future? Failures in this area often identify areas that we need to grow either personally or as a team. Build into those weaknesses to prevent this hurdle from popping up in the future. Along with the theme of executing on a task is the issue related to time.
A lot of projects fail because there wasn't enough time. It's easy in hindsight to see the warning signs to biting off more than you or your team can chew, but when I map out ideas, I always double the time estimates provided to me. I'd rather be early than late. When deadlines are critical, be prepared to shift priorities and cut features to make it work. Another point of failure is the unwillingness to see things through. If you've done the research and you trust your data, don't pull the plug early. A lot of great projects get shut down just shy of their tipping point.
Stick to the plan. If you do fail, do it after the original time estimate has past. This way, you'll have a better understanding of what went wrong and you won't be left with the, "What, if ..." factor. And, finally, a huge contributing factor to failure is having the wrong attitude. It's okay to be skeptical about something. You can pursue an idea with positive skepticism. It's when you're convinced something is going to fail or an idea is terrible without fully vetting it out, that you run into a problem. If you're concerned an attitude will derail a concept then move to another idea until you've gathered enough support to try it out.
If you can take one thing away from all of this, it's that you're going to fail. So fail proudly, fail confidently, and fail often. And when you do fail, take time to understand why.
The course concludes with growth-hacking case studies, highlighting the growth-hacking techniques that helped propel such companies as Airbnb, Uber, and Tinder to explosive growth.
- What is growth hacking?
- Understanding the funnel
- Setting up tracking and analytics
- Leveraging customers and existing users
- Testing ideas
- Generating an audience
- Creating an incentive strategy
- Real-world examples of successful growth hacking