Does your day ever go 100% according to plan? Let's be honest, you'll agree that it's never perfect, but in most cases, a good or even a great day, is never as planned. Same goes for marketing and advertising. You should be planning to fail. Here's our agency's approach to integrating this strategic concept.

Plan to Fail

Recently at a client's summit, Phillip Perlman gave a presentation titled, Bold Fortitude. The big takeaway from that presentation is this: Plan to Fail.

In the intro above, the scenario given is a reflection upon our daily lives. It's a great example of how marketing and advertising campaigns work. You should always execute against your goals, but be realistic that reaching your objectives will not always run flawlessly. In fact, you'll hit more obstacles along the way than you ever imagined.

In the Bold Fortitude presentation, the story used to illustrate this was Amundsen's South Pole expedition: Be the first human beings to reach the geographic South Pole. Amundsen's success was centered around this concept of "Plan to Fail". His success was predicated on his meticulous planning, preparedness, and understanding that things were not going to go as planned.

For Amundsen, his "Plan to Fail" strategy was that on understanding the conditions he and his men would be facing. So he used sled dogs, lighter gear, skis and dropped food at way-points in advance. He knew that failure and success was hinged on their ability to maintain their strength. He knew they would eat their dogs when push came to shove (sorry, but it's true... and we love dogs at TPA so writing this is not easy) and planned accordingly.

Spoiler Alert: Amundsen and his team was successful. His rival and competitor unfortunately was note. Scott's team perished due to circumstances they didn't Plan to Fail for. They used equipment unsuited for the task, and made different decisions that were lethal.

Amundsen at the Geographic South Pole
Amundsen at the Geographic South Pole

Conclusion & Key Takeaways

Planning to Fail requires you to understand the headwinds or challenges that you and your team will be facing. If it's generating leads for B2B, how are you going to execute an ABM (Account Based Marketing) plan? Who on your team needs to be involved? Where are the pain points? What's your Cost Per Acquisition Goal/Target? Etc.

It's all about thinking through the scenarios that will play out, and understanding that the path you take might need to change and adjust in order to meet your strategic goal and objective.

How to Plan to Fail

  1. Identify Your Objective
  2. Understand & Identify Potential Pitfalls
  3. Implement Safeguards to Mitigate Pitfalls
  4. Execute & Review - "Do you need to eat the dog"? (if you don't get this reference, read above)

Additional Reading / Resources

Follow these links to get in-depth information on the topic discussed in this blog:

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Phillip Perlman

Phillip is the founder and CEO of TPA. His background in marketing includes: higher education, restaurant, legal, automotive and medical.

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