At Flood Marketing, celebrating our successes and feeling pride when things go right, is an important attribute for a happy, forward-thinking team. That being said, analyzing our failures is just as, if not more important in order to keep us thinking and moving in a forward direction.
During a recent staff meeting, we dove into a deep conversation amongst the Flood Team on the topic of Survivorship Bias. Being a survivor, succeeding, is something to strive for, of course, both in life and in business.
Every marketing campaign, every ad we put out, every single project we create, has the potential to succeed. The definition of success can be different for each of our clients and each individual campaign or project. But the bottom line is spreading the word about their organization and grabbing hold of customers. When we look at only the data of the ads that survived, the ones that resulted in great conversion and new customers, we miss out on the data of why others failed.
The idea of Survivorship Bias goes back, deep into our nation’s history. As Walker Donahue discusses in his “7 Lessons on Survivorship Bias that Will Help You Make Better Decisions”, one of the greatest examples of Survivorship Bias, is the planes of World War II.
Upon returning from war, the surviving planes were tirelessly inspected. The military wanted to know where the planes had been hit most and then using that data, amp up the armor and durability on those specific areas of the planes.
One man, Abraham Wald, who was a statistician for the Statistical Research Group, helped the military realize they were only looking at the planes that returned. What about those that never made it home, the ones that didn’t survive? The most important, and in this case lifesaving data, was in those planes that failed to make it back.
Realizing their mistake, the military concluded that most of the non-surviving planes were shot in the engine area. From there, they were able to make improvements to strengthen and better bullet-proof future planes.
We can spend a great deal of time going over the data of successful marketing campaigns. What content reached the most eyes? Which ad resulted in the most purchases? Yet if we were to only spend time on these factors, we’d be making the same grave mistake Wald found in the military’s inspection of WWII planes.
Instead, we must analyze and decide why didn’t that ad bring in new customers? Who was the audience targeted, was it the correct one? Were appropriate financial resources used on social media marketing? Would more ad dollars have resulted in higher conversion rates?
Those failures are the data points that keep Flood Marketing striving for success. Success for us and our clients. No marketing campaign can ever be perfected until it is understood why it wasn’t perfect the first time.
Surprisingly to some, good marketing boils down to knowing your data. That is why our team members take the time and effort to fully understand a client’s mission, goals, and definition for success, prior to completing any task. Once an ad is published or a project complete, our team again reflects back on what went right, what went wrong, and what could have gone better.
Data does wonders. Using statistics of how our marketing services performed, allows us to continue bettering ourselves in our individual roles, as a team, and make each campaign more successful than the last.
Failure teaches us life’s most important lessons. Surviving may be the end goal but in order to get there, we must first learn how to stumble, get back up, and stand taller on the next try.
By Molly Michieli