Home Practice ManagementMarketing The Magic of “Failing Forward”

The Magic of “Failing Forward”

by Graig Presti

In 2011, author Eric Ries released a book called The Lean Startup¹. The premise of the book revolves around starting a business, or launching a product, BEFORE it’s been fully tested and refined. The goal being to simply get that idea off the ground in a minimally viable way and then to improve it as you go.

This counterintuitive strategy flies in the face of convention. Many would ask, “Why would you take an idea to market if you assume it’s only going to need to be changed?” Well, two reasons.

First, if you launch something that has merit and brings value to the marketplace (and has a fighting chance at commercial adoption), you can therefore assume that it belongs there.

Second, by launching as soon as possible, you’re avoiding a phenomenon you may have heard before… or even encountered yourself… “analysis paralysis.”

This is essentially OVERthinking something to the point where you’re no longer able to create forward movement or be productive on it. For example, let’s say your team comes up with a marketing campaign where you’re going to send out a postcard every month. You come up with the wording, the designs, and are ready to send them out.

At 2 AM the night before you’re supposed to send the postcard designs to the printer, you’re jolted awake. You think to yourself…”these postcards are never going to get patients to call us… we need to redo them.” So you postpone the order and have your writer and designer go back to the drawing board. And again. And then again. Six months later, you still haven’t sent them out, because they still aren’t quite right. In the meantime, think about how many dozens (if not hundreds) of potential new patients and referrals you could have gotten on the books if you’d just sent them out the first time.

There’s another, more subtle side effect of this inaction. I talk to thousands of doctors every year, and I can’t tell you how many times I hear the same story… a doc either tries to market themselves or signs on with a marketing company. Then for whatever reason, the resulting efforts aren’t successful.

We hear that as an objection all the time. “I don’t like marketing, I was burned by XYZ marketing agency, so I won’t market, etc.” But in reality, that’s the ESSENCE of marketing.

To “fail forward.” To screw things up… until they work. As a 4X Inc. 500/5000 Magazine trusted business, people often ask me what my team does when we’re putting together a new promotion. Do we spend months preparing a new mailer? Do we agonize over it?

We certainly put time and care into what we create and send out… without a doubt. But the whole process of good marketing is putting out a piece, measuring the results, then improving upon those results in future iterations. We never assume that something is going to win the first time – we know our best bet is to get it out there, then improve upon it as time goes on.

Next time you’re preparing a new marketing tactic or a potential improvement to the practice, but aren’t sure where to start (or when it’s finished), realize that you might be wasting time and effort AND potential RESULTS in analysis paralysis.

Be bold and try things. If they don’t work, great – now you know they didn’t work. Don’t be afraid to try something else. Then, do it again and keep doing it. The most successful people in the world fail over and over again. Only they don’t call it “failure”… Instead, they consider it the path to success.

If you’d like to learn more about how to “Fail Forward,” check out our brand new web video series, Beyond The Chair, made in conjunction with industry thought leaders Chris Salierno, DDS and Joshua Austin, DDS. Visit www. LocalSearchForDentists.com/failforward to sign up for FREE (for a limited time)!

1 Ries, Eric. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses. Crown Business, 2014.

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