An organization I was advising had recently hit upon an incredibly successful digital marketing campaign. The cost of acquisition was well below any benchmark I had seen. The messaging, creative and execution all combined to deliver an undeniable winner.
I was incredibly excited by their findings. “Congratulations! Since you discovered the success of this campaign, how much more have you invested in the program?”
The answer, while disappointing, wasn’t surprising.
The campaign wasn’t running anymore. It had just been a test, a part of a series of tests, and they wanted to finish running all of those tests so that they could then go back, evaluate the results, and figure out next steps.
I kept my voice measured, but did all I could to encourage them to rethink that approach. They could continue to run their testing program…in fact, that would be prudent, because that’s how you find more winners.
But, when you find something that works beyond all expectations, the trick is to lean into it as hard as you can, to find the outer limits of its success, and the highest potential positive impact on your business.
That in itself is a test of its own. You need to know…have you discovered a true game changer for your company, or will it tap out quickly, falling back into the pile of notable failures that ultimately didn’t deliver the kind of results you need?
Success in entrepreneurship is about minimizing the impact of your mistakes, while making the most of every bit of luck, good fortune and smart decision making. I suspect that if we analyzed a wide swath of successful and failed startups, we would find that both outcomes saw a similar share of wins and losses. But the successful outcomes made the smart decisions that led to outsized wins that drove business success.
Whenever you are starting a testing program, whether its new creative for a marketing campaign, new sales channels, or a new approach to product development, you should have baseline expectations for how you’ll define success. And when you see an outcome that far outperforms even your highest expectations, push on it as hard as you can, to see how meaningful it could be to your business.
That’s how you find outsized returns that can power your business.