How content marketers can learn how to move on from mistakes super quickly

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

When I played football in Europe and the United States, there was always a next play. I made a mistake (aka missed a block) that didn’t feel good and making too many mistakes meant no playing time. But the beauty also was that there was often another play. I could make up for that mistake seconds later. The last play of the game only happened once every game!

The reason I mention this today, because content marketers and digital marketers have to make mistakes quickly. And they can’t fret on them. They also have to stop apologizing at length. Recognize, mention, learn, move forward.

  • Something didn’t work, move on and try something else.
  • There’s a typo in a blog post, landing page, whatever. Fix it and move on. No need to send 59 emails apologizing for it.
  • Missed a new development to drive content marketing forward? Thank the person who alerted you of it, try it and move forward.

Of course, this model goes against what we are taught for so long: Be perfect. Be perfect. No mistakes allowed. Follow the process. Blah blah blah. Of course that’s not possible. The being perfect part isn’t.

Related: How perfectionism kills storytelling 


It’s also not about failing fast – which is a buzzword out there, it seems. “Please fail fast, but not too hard,” is how many mean this anyway!

The goal here isn’t to fail at all, but to try new things to stay relevant to publish our stories and to stay connected to our audiences. But when we do fail or make a mistake, just move forward quickly. Plus, making a mistake is a far cry from failing.

Then there’s the problem that being right – for real or perceived – actually feels good. “I told you so.” Ugh. It’s probably also one reason why editing for preference is still a thing – even though it shouldn’t be. “I can tell you what it should say.” Despite no evidence.

Related: Why editing for preference in content marketing is a waste of time

Moving quickly on from mistakes can also allow us to ride waves and allows us to never wait and always try new things. That’s an important digital marketing strategy today.

How do we know if something worked, though? It depends on our goals! Of course, businesses need to make money and that’s one measurement on my list of goals, but there are others that will show us progress toward staying relevant:

  • Audience growth
  • Audience engagement
  • Subscriptions – are they signing up for my newsletter?
  • Conversion to something that costs money
  • Profits
  • Retention
  • Advocacy/recommendations

How we grew audiences used to be a straightforward process.

  • Here’s how consumers behave and that’s not changing because they only have 1-2 options
  • Let’s plan
  • Let’s implement
  • Implement
  • Measure results

Certainly that used to work and maybe it still works in some industries, but in anything digital moving faster is really the way to go. Go fast, make mistakes as needed. Learn from them. Move forward. Try something else. Keep doing what works until it stops working.

It’s a learning curve to do this. I get it. We are taught to not make mistakes. When we make them, we explain them away. Feel bad. Get in trouble. Whatever.

It’s time to move on. Digital marketers and change agents need to be able to make mistakes, learn from them and move on.

Special workshop offer

I’m currently offering a workshop to help teams learn how to make mistakes that are crucial to business success. Use the form below to contact me for pricing, availability and to discuss ideas that would be most beneficial to you and your teams: