The cost of failure is at an all-time low


If you wanted to publish something 20 years ago, it had better be good.  Because the printed word took longer, was more permanent, and difficult if not impossible to change once published.  It was also far more expensive to publish in the first place, so the cost of doing something wrong was high.

If you wanted to launch a product 20 years ago, it had better be good.  Because you had one shot of getting it on the shelves, into a boxed product, or to the market.  There was no such than as version 2.01.  There was only version 2.  And it had better be good.  The cost of getting it wrong could be disastrous.

Even the cost of testing 20 years ago was higher.  The idea of A/B testing has been around for at least 100 years (if not much longer), but it was costly enough to test even 30-40 years ago that you limited what you tested to things you thought had a high likelihood of working. Counterintuitive variables?  They were often too expensive to test at all.

Today, of course, the cost of failure is remarkably low.  Did you ship a product with a bug?  Fix it and ship your customers a new version.  Not sure which variable will work best?  Test dozens at a time with little to no risk.

Have something you want to publish?  Write it and ship it now.  For free.  Want to change it?  Edit your copy and click the “update” button.

Failure still hurts.  Achieving a higher success rate is always favorable.

But today, the cost of failing is so low, the smartest marketers and companies actively seek failure as part of their strategy, and as part of an accelerated path to sustained success.

With failure costs so low, the cost of change is almost always lower than the cost of staying the same.

So maybe the question isn’t just how will you win this week, but also, how will you fail?