Content Creativity + Failure = Success

edisonDo you consider yourself creative? I realize that’s a loaded question, and the average person will, without hesitation, tell you they are not creative. But, when it comes to successful digital content marketing, creativity is as important as failure.

How many of you have failed at something? That’s what I thought. We all fail.

Heather Mann, the genius behind CraftFail, celebrates failure. In an interview about her book, she explains that we should reframe our failures as prototypes; unsuccessful prototypes aren’t really failures, but rather ways we learn how to do better on the next attempt.

That’s the same mindset Thomas Edison had when he asserted that he hadn’t failed 10,000 times. He had found 10,000 ways that didn’t work. So what does this have to do with content marketing? As I’ve been thinking about what has been accomplished this year and what’s ahead for the next, I’ve been challenging myself to think in new ways. But change is difficult.

J.E. Johnson, Scene Shop Supervisor for Texas Performing Arts Center at The University of Texas at Austin wrote an op/ed piece about the “de-skilling” of students in the arts and, in particular, those working in the scene shop. Johnson points out that, increasingly, students have never used a hammer, skill saws or drills before they step into the shop. He points to a risk-adverse education system and acknowledges sophisticated CAD programs, which demand more of his time, enable the scene shop to use less skilled workers to achieve the workmanship of certainty instead of the workmanship of risk, where results are rooted in learning curves. While it is more efficient to rely on CNC tools and CAD-produced cutting lists, it means students have few opportunities to hone craft skills which require failure as part of the learning process. That’s what stopped me in my tracks.

Successful content marketing comprises creativity is its heart and soul.

In a world that is risk-adverse, who is willing to fail?

In a world where dog-related stories in the New York Times are 2.6 times more likely to be picked up by other papers, who risks writing about hedgehogs?

In a world where an icy dare results in a $100 million windfall for the ALS Association, viral social campaigns are the Holy Grail, but how many other dares never saw the light of day?

Successful content marketing is not without failure. What worked today, like small businesses developing Facebook pages with strong followings, won’t necessarily work tomorrow. To stay successful, you have to be willing to ask the magic question: “What if?” Follow the path less traveled and risk failure. Consider each attempt a prototype. Weigh the workmanship of risk versus certainty. And if you want to be considered an innovator like Edison, embrace risk and failure. I’m betting that, when you leave the fear of failure behind, you’re more creative than you could imagine.

Enjoyed this post? Read other articles by Kathleen.

Kathleen Gossman – Project Manager


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