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Should You Expect Failure?

Isn’t it the worst? You try something new, but the result is less than spectacular.

It’s frustrating because you see others try the same thing and it seems to work flawlessly for them. What’s going on?

Why do things look so easy for everyone else? Are these people just better or smarter than you?

The short answer is no. The long answer is much more complicated. So, let’s talk about firsts.

Learning To Walk And Kindergarten

This week was filled with firsts for my family.

My son Declan celebrated his first birthday. He is learning, with much trial and error, to walk.

declan with first birthday cake

My son Logan had his first day of Kindergarten. With just 2.5 hours a day of kindergarten, he will be expected to read in a few months.

Logans first day of school

When you are a child, you literally fail your way to success.

I can’t tell you how many times Declan fell down after taking a step or two. I have head marks on my hardwood floors.

But he stands right back up or we stand him up. And he falls right back on his face. And two steps turns into three.

Logan will be called in front of the class and asked to read words he doesn’t know. And he will guess wrong in front of his peers. As Mrs. Bear, his teacher, told us…

…learning is a risk. We have to push these kids to take risks.

It would be insane to expect Declan to stroll down the street on his first, tenth, or twentieth try. It would be crazy to think Logan should be able to read Herman Melville after his first day of kindergarten, or even his first day of third grade.

Taking Risks As Adults

But something will happen to Logan and Declan when they get closer to adulthood.

They’ll start to believe they should be able to succeed the first time. They’ll see how easily someone on YouTube can hit that note. And they’ll expect they should be able to hit it too. And if they can’t after the first or second try, they’ll just say…

…”I just suck at singing.”

They’ll see me drive my car and assume they can do it too. You just put your foot on the gas and turn the wheel, right?!? Easy.

But they’ll run over a curb, cut someone off, or bump into something. And they’ll think…

“I’m just a bad driver.”

Somewhere along the line, they’ll completely forget to expect failure. They’ll expect to get it right from the start. And if they don’t, they’ll just assume there is something wrong with them.

I know because I was the same way. I was 6’3 in 7th grade and just assumed I would be Michael Jordon (or at least Manute Bol) on the basketball court. I tried to shoot and play basketball like Mike. But I failed spectacularly.

And the kids who logged countless hours playing basketball while I played videogames were on the court while I rode the bench.

“I guess I just suck at basketball,” I told myself.

And this foolish expectation of immediate success only gets worse as we get older.

Fail, Who Me?

When you are an adult, you don’t expect to fail. You don’t go to a job interview and say, “I’ve never done this before, so I’ll likely blow it the first couple times.”

No, you are expected to come into a new situation and crush it right away. And if you don’t, there is something wrong with you. Right?

And since everybody wants to look successful, 99.9% of people will not volunteer stories of their early failures. They won’t tell you about the hours and hours they spent trying to get it right.

The person interviewing you will not tell you about their struggles. Those are stored in the far recesses of their mind, never to be accessed.

It’s simply an unfortunate mass insanity, a mass delusion, which we have to live with.

You Don’t Have To Accept The Lie

Like I recently told a good friend of mine, the first blog post you write is going to suck. The third, fourth, and fifth blog post is going to suck. Accept that and accept that you are going to get better.

My early blog posts are embarrassing. They sucked.

And it took me years to learn how to write and manage proposals. I learned from my, often disastrous, mistakes.

Don’t Try To Run Before You Can Walk

The mistake I see people make is one I’ve made many times. I tried to run before I could walk.

I focused on shooting the ball behind my back with my tongue out, rather than simply dribbling the ball well.

And when I failed, I just threw my hands up and blamed my perceived limitations (I wasn’t born good at basketball). The difference between me and Jordon is he kept at it. He was cut from his childhood team. Instead of accepting that, he doubled down on identifying where he needed to improve, practicing more, and trying harder.

If you fail, you can accept the lie (and throw up your hands) or you can double down…

…on trying again…

…on learning the skills you need to succeed…

…on getting better with each attempt…

…on learning from each failure.

If you don’t take the time to keep trying and improve the core skills you need to succeed, you’ll never get the chance to take your highlight reel shot.

Now is your turn. Leave a comment and tell us about someone you admire who failed, but kept at it. I’ll read every comment.

How To Justify Hiring New Marketing Staff

One of the questions I always hear is:

“How many marketers should my firm have?”

That’s a very good question. And there are different rules of thumb used to answer that (like one marketer for every 20 people). I’m not sure if any of them are valid.

I think the real question is, “How do I justify hiring new marketing staff?”

So, today I’m going to show you exactly how to justify hiring new marketing staff in a manner that would be difficult to argue against.

But first, we have to answer a question that may have been in the back of your head for years…

“Is my own employment justified?”

Is Your Employment Justified?

This is an interesting question that I want you to consider. Is your firm losing or making money from your efforts? Or are they at least breaking even.

This topic was touched on at one of the Build Business sessions I attended. Some of the “insights” in that session were great. But one, in particular, seemed incorrect.

The Fallacy of Salary

Many years ago, I heard an engineer state that as long as he billed an amount that equaled his salary, he had justified his employment.


It’s the exact opposite. He just justified himself as a financial liability.

You see, what you cost a business is far beyond your salary. They have to lease the place you sit, give you the tools you need, match at least a portion of your healthcare, pay taxes on you…

…they pay people like administrators, human resources professionals, etc., to support you…

…they spend money to acquire and retain clients their staff can bill…

… They may even match your retirement contributions.

Believe it or not, those extra costs could easily amount to 150% of your salary. How much ranges from firm to firm.

At the very least, you better be billing 250% of your salary. I say, “very least” because if the firm isn’t making a profit off you, you are not fulfilling your function (which is to help your firm realize profits).

How That Relates To Marketers

In the Build Business presentation, they spoke about how marketers can justify themselves. They used a metric known as Total Payroll Multiplier (which you can learn more about here). They suggested marketers just multiply their salary by the total payroll multiplier to calculate the total return a firm should expect from their investment in you (i.e. The cost of having you around).

how to justify hiring new marketing staff

The problem is that calculation ignores several factors:

  • Non-Reimbursable direct expenses
  • All indirect expenses
  • The point, which is firms need to make a profit off you (or at least someone)

So What’s The Right Equation?

The short, but challenging, answer is:

All the costs associated with employing you + 10% of those costs (i.e., a reasonable profit).

The best approximation of that would probably be:

Your salary + (firm’s audited overhead rate x your salary) + (your salary x .10)

Because a lot goes into (and is left out of) the firm’s audited overhead rate, this will just be an approximation. But it will probably be closer than using the total payroll multiplier.

Let’s say you make $50,000. Your firm’s audited overhead rate is 1.5 (150%). Then the calculation would be:

$50,000 + (50,000 x 1.5) + (50,000 x .10)

$50,000 + $75,000 + $5,000

= $130,000

Revenue vs. Savings

$130,000 sounds like a lot, but there is another factor to consider. That is savings.

For marketers, it’s not always simply about bringing in revenue.

If having you around saves your firm $130,000, then you’ve just justified yourself.

And that brings us to the useful insight from that same presentation.

Justifying New Marketing Hires

One of the speakers talked about how he justified a new marketing hire at his firm. And he illustrated it with the chart below.

justify hiring marketing staff 2

The argument he was making is, since the cost of technical staff is higher than marketing staff, there would be significant monetary savings by bringing on a new marketing person (who could do that work).

He could have even done the math to show the difference between the current costs and a scenario where a marketing coordinator was doing the work (and the technical staff was billing).

Because of opportunity costs, there would be a stark contrast.

His pitch wasn’t that a new marketing coordinator would make the firm more money. It was that the savings would far outweigh the costs.

That’s a smart way to justify a new marketing hire. Do the math and answer this question:

How much more money would the firm save or generate by hiring this new person?

Do you think this is the right approach? What do you think is the best way to justify new marketing hires? Let us hear your thoughts in the comments.

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