Nothing Sells Like … Failure?

In traditional marketing, nobody devotes a lot of copy to their failures — but in content searchmarketing, embarrassing mistakes often provide golden opportunities.

In his legendary 2005 commence address, Steve Jobs described how dropping out of college, getting fired from Apple and being diagnosed with cancer were essential to his career and life success. The transcript of that speech became some of the most widely read and shared online content in history.

Yet most businesses are more comfortable with the all-positive nature of testimonials than developing content about how they’ve dealt with failure. Having a very successful customer say,”I’m rich and powerful and I endorse XXX company” may seem like a great story to XXX company — but it often comes off like a thinly disguised ad to readers.

Case studies and success stories are the most engaging when they address real-world problems. “Here’s what happened, what we learned from our mistakes and what we did to turn it around,” is more compelling than “Don’t you wish you were me?”

The reality is that perfection is off putting. There are few business leaders, companies or products that weren’t developed by trial and error. The ultimate point of your case study or success story might be how you, your company or your product turned that failure into success — but you lead with a moment of vulnerability.

Companies and people who are willing to be authentic and honest are more engaging — and attract more readers.

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