…Only Epic Failures

“I want to do marketing,” said Randy, “and I want it to go viral.”

To say Randy didn’t have much experience in marketing would be an understatement. Randy didn’t have any experience in marketing.

Miracles

Over the last 20 years, Randy had built a successful international business-to-business debt collection enterprise. He was expanding by acquisitions.

Randy was at a crossroad. He had created a company the usual way:  Acquiring one customer at a time, exceeding expectations, and receiving referrals. He knew he needed marketing, as in the verb, but didn’t know where to start.

This is a fairly common dilemma for many small business owners.

When you look at successful companies, it is pretty easy to see why they are successful today. What you don’t see are the epic failures, the trials, and the mistakes made along the way. Of course, none of this is clear in foresight, only in hindsight.

New Coke

“New Coke” was an epic failure. For years Coca-Cola had been losing sales to Pepsi. Blind taste tests confirmed that consumers liked the sweeter taste of Pepsi. This lead to tons of market research, customer focus groups, blind taste tests, and a new sweeter formulation of the flagship soft drink – Coke.

Most consumers liked the sweeter New Coke. However, a small but vocal group of die-hard Classic Coke drinkers hated it. Of course, Pepsi fueled the negative press against Coca-Cola, claiming to have won the “Cola Wars.” New Coke only lasted three months before Classic Coke was brought back to the market.

The New Coke story is a fascinating read about the power of marketing, the psychology of consumers, and how — just when you think you know what you are doing — life teaches you a lesson.

Bottom Line

Epic failure or marketing genius?

When Classic Coke was reintroduced to the market three months later, it outsold both New Coke and Pepsi. Coca-Cola, despite or maybe because of an epic failure, has firmly positioned Coke as the number one selling soft drink in the world.

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