“That business wasn’t an experiment that failed…it was a failure to experiment.”  My sentiments exactly.  Too many businesses practice a formulaic, industry best practices, same-as-last-year approach to strategic planning.  It’s not just unambitious; it’s irresponsible.  As marketing people, we are expected to be creative thinkers.  As creative thinkers, it is incumbent upon us to design business building experiments. 

A “business building experiment” is not a wild idea, a swing for the fences or a pet project.  It is a systematically designed experiment with definable outcomes, ROI analysis, specific success metrics and the skill set development to implement effectively.  It has a time-frame.

We have one client with whom we’ve made what we call the “test-measure-learn” discipline part of their mantra.  It’s engrained.  The idea is to create or encourage a culture which is accepting of experimentation.  Some people, however, still think running experiments is somehow irresponsible or a little crazy.  They seek safety even if it means allowing the business to slowly dissolve as the world around it continues to change.  Personally, I don’t get it.

If you are a Chief Marketing Officer, your job is to create measurable experiments you can test and learn from.  Yes, it puts a certain amount of precious resources at risk.  But, at the end of the day, which is the greater sin…that we tried something or a series of things that didn’t work (and we’ve learned why) or that we did nothing at all?  Businesses have to take acceptable risks to evolve.  Change the creative strategy, create a line extension, add functionality to the packaging, implement promotional pricing, add a sales channel, enter new geography, target gate-keepers, create a marketing partnership, launch a social promotion, change the media mix…the possibilities are obviously endless.