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Business Mistakes as Opportunities to Connect With Your Audience? (Marketing Insights Podcast)


Mistakes, fumbles, screw-ups, blunders – unfortunately, in our daily lives and businesses we’ve all had them, they’re inevitable. But what you may not know is that they’re great learning tools.

If you mess something up or make a gigantic mistake, you end up bouncing back with more vigor and intensity just to prove that mistake wrong, to prove that you can do it, and because of that you not only learn from your mistakes but you bounce back even stronger.

Making them sucks. Recovering from them is difficult, and the learning that comes from them can be a little painful, but if you never make a mistake – you never get the chance to learn anything OR get any of the hidden benefits that can come from them.

In this podcast, we’ll talk more generally about how to make the most of your business mistakes in terms of being transparent with your audience, building engagement and creating a shared narrative.

We almost prefer a flawed campaign to a flawless one, at the end of the day – so let’s get right into why…

Distilled Wisdom

  • Flawlessness is an extremely rare, border-line mythical thing. You will make a business mistake at some point, but it’s how you handle that mistake that’s what’s really important. both from an audience research and a customer service standpoint – you can learn a lot when you screw up.
  • The idea for this podcast came from our blunders launching the Business Ignition Bootcamp, where both the content and delivery methods were very new to us. When you try a lot of new thing, there are a lot of moving parts and things might not work out smoothly – that’s the nature of doing something new and experimental.
  • What does a mistake do in terms of your brand image? Surprisingly, it’s not something to worry about. Not to say you don’t need to fix the problems, but publicly making mistakes is not something to worry about. You don’t expect good service or help from a big company, so when something goes wrong it fits into your narrative of “Oh, there we go again.” But our relationship with our customers is that we do care; we’re very reachable. If we screw up, you’re going to hear about it on our blog. We’re human and we’re honest about it, we’re not just some giant chain.
  • We almost prefer that if we’re running a campaign that something go wrong. We’d rather it be 95% flawless and 5% flawed, instead of 100% flawless, even though that may seem counter-intuitive. If you just be honest and respond to the flaw to the best of your ability, it’ll create a shared narrative for you and your customers; it binds you both together.
  • The key to creating a shared narrative is the gap between their expectations and the results you get. If you only trot out the transparency and honesty when you screw things up, it will look like a scheme and people will see right through your manipulation.
  • If you have three hours to apply these concepts of shared narratives, what should you do? Well, that depends: if you’ve screwed something up and wondering how you can recover, just be honest. You wouldn’t spill hot coffee on someone and then tell them “I’m sorry for you inconvenience”, you’re basically just saying you’re sorry they’re upset. You need to be honest and admit that you actually screwed up and acknowledge responsibility. If you haven’t screwed up yet, think about what you can share. Think about what you can tell people about you fears, your challenges and your aspirations, so when you get to the point you do make a mistake – and you will, it’s only natural – people will have a connection with you and will cut you some slack about it.

Have any of you ever made a giant blunder? Let us know in the comments how you handle mistakes personally and professionally and what the best way to recover from them is for you.

About Megan Dougherty

Megan Dougherty is an alumnus of Mirasee and is passionate about online education, small business and making a difference in the world. You can find out what she's up to and how side-hustles will take over the world at

10 thoughts on “Business Mistakes as Opportunities to Connect With Your Audience? (Marketing Insights Podcast)

  1. Hi Danny…great podcast! You hit on something that is a fear of mine. There is a space between learning all this stuff (building a platform, learning the marketing and especially the technology) that take place in the head and then the actual first launch which feels sort of blurred. I know that it will be “in the doing” that will make it all gel, but I have held a fear that during a launch, something can go wrong (like a tech thing) and I’ll have no idea how to fix it.

    • Hey Linda, that’s a reasonable concern, but if something like that happens, you’ll deal with it. Reach out to your colleagues, reach out to your friends, and reach out to your audience, and just be honest – say that this is what’s going on, and I need your help – you’ll be surprised how much people actually want to help you!

  2. Great podcast!

    The giant blunder I made was working with a client who I didn’t screen properly to see if he/she was in fact my ‘ideal’ client.

    Instead of listening to my ‘gut instinct’ that an opportunity wasn’t right for me, I went ahead anyway. Big mistake. I felt the ‘red flags’ around the project, but I thought I was being judgmental. Wrong. I ended the contract and refunded the money I was paid. Of course, the project was 99.9% complete.

    What lessons did I learn? Here they are:

    -Sometimes, an opportunity is not for my highest good and the good of others.
    -Ask many questions.
    -Have a potential client fill out a questionnaire.
    -Do not be afraid to say, “I’m sorry. I’m not the right writer for you and your company.”
    -Focus on attracting the clients you want to work with now and in the future.

    Lessons learned.

  3. A mistake ?
    Well here’s a good one :
    I did a seminar (offline, you remember those ? where real people cough and raise hands at awkward moments ? seeing directly when you’re “off-spot” …)
    I was telling this great story about one of my clients (without mentioning her, or even that it was a client : just an imaginary one) : this client was struggling for years with a lawsuit, losing everything over being “right”. She lost her health, relationship, job and lot’s of money ; much more than she would ever be able to get back if she won the case.
    I had been telling her to give up and choose what’s important to her.
    So my client said, yeah I’ll give up those little healthproblems, relationship and my job, and I’ll win the case.
    I hooked up on that by explaining the link to “how to tackle health problems”.
    SO I told the audience : you see, don’t say “I’ll look to the roots of my problems, once the problem is settled”
    And the audience LOVED IT ! They really responded very well, except for one person /

    Ooops ! The client I had been speaking about whas there, just in front of me !
    Does that look like an awkward situation to you ?
    Well, to me it was
    So what did I do ?
    I accepted immediately that there was no way to hide, to blame on anything, or whatever
    In fact, I went in deeper !
    So I told the audience : in fact, that person is sitting right here ! And I invited the person to get up, and testify… and she did !
    She testified, and then she said right in front of everyone :
    Thank you for exposing me like this, because I have not been able to admit it, or see it that clearly up to now. Dear Ronald, you just showed how engaged you are to your clients by risking a blunder on your seminar in order to make me see.
    Amazing right ?
    But there’s more :
    I couldn’t fake this. I had to say that it really was a mistake on my part. So I did.
    And then someone in the audience said : my god, ronald, you seem to be able to find a good lesson in everything, you can hook me up with any of your trainings !
    And so he did, and so did almost EVERYONE in the audience
    My lesson learned ? To be real ! To be human ! Error is human, and people like to do business with a human being (not with mr perfect marketing out to get a buck)
    Hope this is helpful to anyone

  4. Very helpful podcast. In my personal life, I recently gave a speech to my group in which I said things that hurt some of the listeners. There was dissention in the group at the time and my thoughtless words made it much worse for some members. I immediately apologized and then sent email apologies to the members I had slammed. They all accepted my apology and now we can meet again without problems. BUT my apology was heartfelt and honest saying that I had not done my research into the problems and should have used another way of pointing out the problems by discussing them with the people directly, not confronting those people in public.

  5. My worst blunder in the marketing arena? I was on a live television broadcast being interviewed and talking about our non-profit’s programs. I told a glowing testimonial story about a client who had agreed to go public and they showed her picture and I forgot her name. Could not remember it for anything! As the dead air drenched me in sweat, I found no graceful way out and finally had to just stumble on to my next point. The interviewer made some sort of a lame segue. The moral for me was: Always write down the names of people you plan to mention, along with the notes about their story!! Perhaps you could have a more graceful approach, and someone can suggest something! At that moment however, I was essentially brain dead with dread. So keep in mind that a brain dead person would have to be able to pull it off!!

    • Hi Renee,

      If this ever happens again, you could make light of it by saying “That is… Oh my, I can’t believe I can’t remember her/his name. But he/she was successful.” Something like this. Hopefully, the interviewer will say something witty and segue into the next point.

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