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Sometimes you just gotta say, what the…


Lovers of the 80’s movie Risky Business, the breakout role for Tom Cruise, will recognise this quote. It continues (we have replaced the naughty word with heck), “Sometimes you’ve just gotta say, what the heck, make your move. Every now and then saying what the heck brings freedom. Freedom brings opportunity, opportunity makes your future.”

It isn’t easy to be this cavalier all the time, but at the same time, it is empowering to say what the… and own the idea you haven’t reached the goals you expected. Whether part of a project or the whole project, sometimes, despite your best intentions and all the effort and skills in your arsenal, you still manage to miss the mark.

Sometimes, in the tactical delivery of marketing campaigns, things don’t work. There have been spectacular failures in decades past. The New Coke anyone? Back in the mid 80’s the global icon tried to change its recipe and marketed the fact it tasted better than the original, which already had the greatest market share. Even Fidel Castro joined in the chorus of the failure of the product. Why challenge yourself and your global market behemoth?

In 2010, US clothing giant Gap changed its logo, for six days before a consumer backlash forced them back to the drawing board. Other similar marketing fails have included racism, homophobia and anti-Semitism and other kinds of unintended offence.

This includes us too. While we haven’t made any significant nor damaging faux pas, we have had a situation this week where we have had to go to a client and to make an apology related to our work. We didn’t hit the lofty target we had set for ourselves and so, we had to own the fact it didn’t work.

There should never be a position in business where you fail to own your mistakes, or fail to reach an agreed KPI, without owning it. Without fronting up and saying – hey, despite our best work, we didn’t get it right. We can blame external factors and we can look for excuses as to why things didn’t work this time. There are always going to be factors out of your control. It takes a little courage to admit you didn’t get it right, and it takes even more to say it’s our fault.

Clients and customers will respect this. They will respect honesty and truth over obfuscation and excuses, and if you are armed with a solution for the next time, then you are doing the right thing by you, and by your client.

Nobody is perfect, nor should anyone expect you to be. But the What the Heck moment, which brings you freedom, opportunity, and success is a great moment to realise you are doing okay. If anyone judges you for being honest, upfront and willing to cop it on the chin for your mistake, then don’t be put down or feel bad.

Just walk outside and say, what the...

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