Health Marketing Success Plan: FAIL

by Sarah on November 22, 2009


Health Marketing Success:  FAIL!


Let me tell you about Manny Pacquiao.  If you’re a boxing fan, you know who this guy is.  If you’re not, listen – his story is a story for more than just boxers.  It’s a great story for marketers.


Today, Filipino boxing phenom Manny Pacquiao is considered one of the top boxers . . . perhaps ever. 


Said ESPN boxing commentator, Dan Rafael, about the decisive victory Pacquiao had over Ricky Hatton that crowned him king: “With one thunderous left hand, Manny Pacquiao smashed his way into boxing immortality.”

“Anyone doubt his pound-for-pound No. 1 perch now? Shoot, anyone doubt his place as one of boxing’s best ever?” demanded Rafael.


Pacquiao’s slated for the boxing Hall of Fame and boxing fans are salivating to see him lined up with all-time great former WBC welterweight champion “Pretty Boy” Floyd Mayweather who’s never lost a fight.


But what not a lot of fans know is that in his first two fights, Pacquiao was knocked out cold.  Twice in a row.  Even the guys in his corner were shaking their heads, advising him to get out of fighting professionally.  Telling him, this isn’t for you.


But did Pacquiao take that advice?  No, instead he took those two knockouts as lessons to apply.  He applied them well and developed consummate focus, quick defense, determination not to get punched out again . . . and a mean left hand that is feared around the world.


There are two lessons here:  One, don’t take failure at face value.  It can teach you and spur you to do better.


And two, fail fast and early.  Failures are not only lessons, but the best lessons ever.


When I started copywriting, I was thrilled to rope in a major client within my first year.  But instead of a project that I could crow about, I ended up with just a kill-fee.  After reviewing the 8-page letter that I had labored over, the client told me, “Maybe copywriting isn’t for you – you need to go back and study letter-writing.”


I had stuck in every fact and figure I could find and left out the craft. 


Now, I could have taken his advice. However, instead I let those words resonate with me.  I had thought I was a good writer.  But I had just been soundly knocked out in my opening round.  I had to recheck my perspective and work even harder to learn the particular ins and outs of copywriting.


I pored over that failing letter over and over again.  And studied a slew of master copywriters with even more intensity. 


And I wrote and I wrote and I wrote.  I used that early failure to get even better.



As successful marketers from Michael Masterson to Gary Scott will tell you, the best thing you can do to succeed is to fail.  Fail a lot, fast and early on.


Failure is going to teach you.  For direct response marketers it’s an easy lesson.  With the attention to response rates and testing, you can tear those failures apart and use each dismal run to learn and improve.


In fact it’s one of the questions I ask my clients when starting on a new project:  What pieces have not done so well? What marketing pieces do you not like?  Why? 


And there’s another reason to get comfortable with some failure – it gets you unstuck.


I know from experience how easy it is to get trapped in reading every single book, blog and PDF on a topic.  Musing.  Ruminating.  Worried about making the wrong move, doing the wrong thing.


No, rarely are you going to get success right out of the gate.  The point is to get experience.  And only by getting into the thick of things can you get some. 


Because really, consider this: If you’re so busy developing your unique selling proposition, how can you fit into everyone else’s marketing plan and observations?  By getting out there and trying things out with your specific product, your specific market, you’ll get feedback on what works specifically for your business.


Sure – study, read, look around.  That’s only smart.  But get out there and do something.  Fail!  Fail a lot and fast.  Fail in small, smart increments.  And then learn from your failures and go on to succeed.


Manny Pacquiao did . . . I’m working on it – building success off of my failures every day.


How about you?


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