When You’re Not Sure About An Idea…

You should probably try it.  There’s a reason you’re unsure.  Perhaps you’re unsure because it involves taking a chance or you don’t think it’s perfect.  Yet the ideas – especially the creative variety – that you’re unsure about are probably the most interesting.  They’re also probably interesting because they are imperfect.

Perfection isn’t as pleasing to us as imperfection because it’s not natural.  This is where so many get the web wrong:  ideas which are overly polished don’t resonate with people, they resonate with marketers.

To those who might say “I’m unsure about my idea, what if I fail?” I’d respond with: “what’s wrong with that?”

One of the greatest things about being a marketer these days is the cost of failure.  If you’re organized for failure, something the internet enables, you can fail like crazy – cheaply or even free – until you find what works.  Most people try to perfect every little thing that is shared with the world because it used to be costly to launch.  But as Eric Friedman sagely advises:  never launch, just iterate:

“When did Google launch?”

The answer is that they never officially “launched”. Sure they opened up the product to a larger sample, but from the first index of sites, to the next 100,000, to the next 1,000,000 then just kept having people use the product. They outgrew their servers and office space and continued to grow the product. They iterated along the way and used the crawling of the web as a catalyst for growth and adding new hardware.

This has resonated with me and gives an important lesson; never launch, just iterate.

Why should this be just for startups?  Apply this to your marketing, your blogging, your website, your social media participation, your PR, or any of your outreach to spread ideas.  Businesses, artists and everyone in between should think like this.

The “big win” as a bump in buzz/digital PR no longer happens at the start.  It’s been totally flipped – you have to earn enough social proofing to reach that tipping point.  But a neat thing happens when you get to that point:  you will rely less on pushing your ideas and more on an audience you’ve built a relationship with to help spread them.

Pull PR will shape your future public relations strategy, but only if you implement an incremental growth strategy, let go of “big wins” or as Eric says:  never launch, just iterate.  When big wins happen, great – but the propensity for them to occur rises if you embrace a constant, iterative process and are always trying new things (building an audience along the way) versus spending inordinate amounts of time trying to craft hits.

Structure your marketing so the next time you’re unsure about an idea, you get to test it in it’s pure, unfinished form.  Get your team into a system that is simple, friction free and with the approach there are no “wrong answers.”  If you can’t trust your team to do this, get them to the point you can.

I’m a internet marketer by day, but I don’t drink the kool aid – I’m first a foremost a user of digital platforms and have been for more than a decade before I got into marketing.  I live at that intersection and approach strategy from that vantage point.  And that vantage point is to treat the web as if it is a constantly evolving experiment with no wrong answers.  I encourage you to do the same.  If you’re working as a digital marketer and are worried about the risk to failure, you’re not using the web properly.