Why failure helps create better marketers
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Often when starting out, marketers are eager to please and progress up the career ladder, but this can result in them focusing on the wrong things.
It can also put pressure on marketers to excel at everything they do first time, which in addition to being unrealistic could also prevent them from taking risks.
Pedro Earp, AB InBev’s chief marketing and ZX Ventures officer, for example, was so intent on succeeding that he didn’t leave any room for error. But he believes taking risks and failing earlier on in his career would actually have helped him develop at a faster rate.
“When I take a look at my early days there are not a lot [of big mistakes or failures], which is a bad thing,” he says. “If I had failed more at the beginning of my career I probably would have learnt more earlier.”
Not being afraid of failure can help marketers be more open to trying new things, which will ultimately make them better at their job.
“It will pay off in the long run,” he adds. “People need to take risks and try different things early on in their career.”
Likewise, Berta de Pablos, Mars Wrigley’s chief growth officer, says: “You always learn more from things that don’t go the way you planned.”
“I’ve been part of some projects where I was so enthusiastic and certain they were going to work that I didn’t listen enough to what the barriers could be,” she recalls. “And actually the barriers became reality and the project failed, so I would have run projects differently [in hindsight].”
I had failed more at the beginning of my career I probably would have learnt more earlier.
Pedro Earp, AB InBev
She also advises younger marketers to get out and speak to people so they soak up as much knowledge and expertise from the people around them as possible.
“My younger self would always go for reading and studying, but sometimes you just learn more by listening and talking to people,” she suggests. “Interacting with people is something that has always worked for me.”
She says this close collaboration with colleagues also builds trust, which “helps things move much faster”.
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Patience is another key skill marketers must develop if they want to succeed in the long-term, according to Marriott International’s Karin Timpone.
Early on in her career, she felt frustrated that digital marketing was effectively “cordoned off”.
“I was always obsessed with media, technology, customer – all of that coming together – but in the early years there were only a few people talking about digital and how to do it. I would tell my younger self to be patient, it’s coming,” she says. “I don’t know if it would help accelerate [my career] but it would comfort me.”
Given digital has created so many new opportunities, she advises marketers not to worry if they aren’t experts in every part of the marketing mix immediately.
“It’s so exciting now all the things we can do, so I would just encourage those who are coming up [through the ranks] to be patient. Keep doing what you’re doing because you’re learning things, but [be patient because] it’s coming.”
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