Jon Mowat, Managing Director of Hurricane, explains why planning to fail is an important aspect of video marketing.
Those 30 broken bones are the price MacAskill has paid for his success. His trial cycling videos on YouTube have been watched more than 500 million times. The videos tend to be of him staying on the bike – but what you are seeing is the result of him failing over and over again. Crash. Ouch. Repeat.
I’ve talked about failure before but I’m going to make like Danny MacAskill – get back in the saddle and have another crack. In fact, building failure into the plan is the key to success.
Failure is something to be embraced. It goes against every logical business argument to plan to fail, but I’m going to explain why – when it comes to video content marketing – it should be part of your thinking, your planning, and your budget.
Let’s take a moment to frame what failure actually looks like, because it’s rarely as bad as the worst case scenario. In fact, it’s more like a sliding scale from bad to disaster. Unless you’re extremely unlucky, it’s unlikely that you’ll find yourself presiding over a full blown disaster. You can manage risk and you don’t have to stake everything in one go.
The people who really succeed are those who try things that haven’t been done before. They are serial failures, undeterred by what doesn’t work and driven by what might. They fall and get up again. Over and over again. Crash. Ouch. Repeat.
When it comes to video content marketing, you are unlikely to break any bones, but you will still need to hold your nerve in order to shift your marketing culture from a gear of comfortable ongoing success to one that is willing to test new ideas and watch some of them fail.
To some extent, that means rewriting your business outlook. Chances are, your company is focused on profit and loss. Quarterly revenue, not content, is king. You need to get beyond this. It’s not a question of abandoning (really quite sensible) goals of overall business success. It’s about adjusting your expectations of what success looks like. That means derisking testing in your budget. Build failure into your model.
Testing should be the most critical part of your process. You do it all the time with other parts of your marketing strategy – paid ads, for instance – experimenting with placement, timing, wording, design, UI, and thumbnails. You do it so you can see what works. But the price of working that out is to see what doesn’t work. In an A/B test, one of the options fails, one succeeds. Failure is built into the model.
You probably think you are already using a formula that works. It’s consistent and successful. It doesn’t fail. And you are probably happy with that. But if you are not failing some of the time, it’s equally true that you are not trying something new that could work better. That, in my view, is a problem.
What should you try? That’s a question only you can really answer. But – having mined your marketing data – you might look at changing your tone of voice or experimenting with new formats and segments on social. You could overhaul your entire creative direction if you wanted to. Look outside your comfort zone for ideas. If you get buried in what you’ve already done or what competitors are doing but don’t look any further, you are unlikely to fail, but also unlikely to shake up your ideas much.
Within reason, you should feel a bit scared of your plans. After all, it might not work. It might fail. It might hurt a bit. And you must test your new ideas – you can create parallel videos and A/B test them (here’s how to do that on Facebook and YouTube).
Challenge yourself by setting KPIs that you aren’t reaching at the moment. Perhaps they even look a bit unrealistic. Perhaps they go beyond what you think success looks like at the moment.
To recalibrate your idea of success, you should be dreaming up new ideas all the time and be willing to test them, even with failure looming large. Especially with failure looming large. Put budget aside for testing new video content marketing ideas. Think about how you might amplify or adjust your messaging. By planning for – and budgeting for – testing as part of your project, you have effectively planned for the sort of failure that will lead to greater success.
In fact, you can think of your entire project as a test. Be willing to deviate from your preconceived idea of how things will turn out, then test the results. Plan for multiple pieces of video content marketing, in multiple versions. Some won’t work, and that’s something you should embrace. The ones that do will be better for it.
When Danny MacAskill gets on his bike in the morning, I guarantee it’s not to do the same tricks he did last year. He will be planning his next box of tricks. Bigger, better. And he will go out and fail at them, and break his bones and get back in the saddle and work on the ones that he thinks might come good. And eventually he will succeed, and millions of people will watch his video on YouTube. If he skips the hard bit – the testing, the failing – how many people do you think are going to watch his films?
You (hopefully) don’t even have to break any bones. Your costs might go up a bit, but it’s a short-term hit. Test your video content marketing, embrace the idea of failing and learning, keep coming up with fresh ideas, and persevere. The journey to video content marketing success is easy: it’s just like falling off a bike.
Crash. Ouch. Repeat.