Whether you are creating a product for the first time, fifth time or hundredth time you might make mistakes somewhere along the way. There are A LOT of steps to bringing a new product to market and sometimes things get missed, overlooked or just go wrong.

Turning Mistakes into ideas

I’ve worked in Marketing and Product Development for many years. I will share some errors that have happened in my career. It goes to show that even when you have a team of people to work with, things can go wrong! You are human and therefore errors happen.

There was one time I had the very simple task of updating the vintage on a wine label. Briefed the designer (yep, one sentence to change the date and the alcohol percentage). Nothing else had to change. Seemed simple. The label proof came back and I approved the new date and alcohol percentage. What I didn’t do was to check that in fact everything else stayed the same!

Turns out the designer was using a freelancer who wasn’t that familiar with our labels. They used a different label from the range as a template. As a result…we ended up with the wrong barcode on the product. The barcode was in fact the existing barcode for another product! 5000 cases produced later…we picked up the error. Every back label had to be over-labelled…by hand!

Lucky for me I had a very understanding boss, who was pretty impressed with all of my other work, so she let this slide. However, she was wise enough to see that there was obviously an error in the process which had caused this to happen. Once labels were returned, I was the only one checking and approving them! To make it worse, I didn’t even have a checklist of what needed to be approved for each label. Also, I wasn’t entirely to blame. The designer had chosen an unusual way to update the label which caused the error, I hadn’t picked up the error, it went to production, and nobody there picked up the error either! It even got through Qaulity Assurance who were more concerned at the time about labels being applied straight.

Following this mistake a new process was established. The designer was briefed. The proof then had to go through a team of people who had individual check lists to review and sign off on. The barcode was also added to the work order, so that the production team could easily see if the label was incorrect. The new process was so much better that it actually reduced all sorts of labelling errors which had occurred. We learned from this mistake and improved.

I have had several incidents where instructions have been ‘lost in translation’. I once gave instructions to be printed on packaging to a supplier in China. They printed those instructions, but in Chinese characters! The instructions weren’t crucial to the product, they were simply pack opening instructions and the amount of Chinese was minimal. We decided this wasn’t going to make or break the product (it was a pretty basic, everyday, household product). So we released it to market as it was and sales weren’t affected. Obviously we discussed the issue with the supplier and asked that in future they send us proofs before just printing text onto the package and producing it.

Make Mistakes. Learn from them. Move On.

Mistakes will happen.

Firstly you need to stop, breathe and realise it’s not the end of the world! Then you need to evaluate if those errors can be easily fixed before the product goes to market, or if it is going to be too costly to fix. If it’s too costly to fix, can it just go to market as is? Will it really affect sales? Sometimes we become too attached to our product. It becomes your baby and you are super protective and want everything to be perfect. However, consumers may not realise that you actually intended for the colour to be 2 shades lighter for example!

Some mistakes we can let go, others will need a new plan. Either way, don’t forget to learn from your mistakes. Evaluate what steps or processes you can put into place to stop the same error happening again.

Making Mistakes and Overcoming Them

11 thoughts on “Making Mistakes and Overcoming Them

  • November 21, 2017 at 10:10 am
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    Love that you included some examples. It’s so easy to get stuck in a mistake and freak out rather than figuring out how to move past it.

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    • November 21, 2017 at 10:37 am
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      Definitely. We need to remember it’s all a learning process.

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  • November 21, 2017 at 10:30 am
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    I think my slight obsession with being perfect is what hinders me from creating a product in the first place. Mistakes are all a part of the learning process and I believe they actually make us better.

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    • November 21, 2017 at 10:37 am
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      Absolutely!! I’ve made many! It’s just remembering that they often seem worse to ourselves than they actually are.

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  • November 21, 2017 at 10:50 am
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    We all need to hear this I believe. I know that I can get hung up on mistakes and feel I have failed. I love how you turn a “failure” into a win. Great post.

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  • November 21, 2017 at 8:12 pm
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    I couldn’t agree more. I used to be the type of person who would completely freak out over the slightest thing that goes wrong, but came to learn how to overcome this, thank goodness lol

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  • November 22, 2017 at 11:49 am
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    This is great information. I will have to pass it along to my retail marketing friends.

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  • December 7, 2017 at 9:43 pm
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    Great article. It’s so true – we will all inevitably make mistakes. As you said, a lot can be learned from them and ultimately we can do so much better as a result.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences! Sometimes I feel like the only goofball in the world but I guess EVERYONE will have made at least 1 mistake at work.

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    • December 7, 2017 at 9:46 pm
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      I think everyone makes them! Especially in the early days of a job. It’s about how you learn and change afterwards though. I’ve always found employees who acknowledge and learn from their mistakes end up being brilliant to work with!

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  • December 8, 2017 at 12:11 am
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    Mistakes most times makes one look like failure. You fight war with yourself to overcome this error so that it wont overwhelm you and define the source and manage the issues.

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  • December 8, 2017 at 4:11 am
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    Great post and completely true. Mistakes will happen, big and small and it’s important to keep perspective and handle the situation rather than let it get out of hand! Love the examples about learning for future situations and improving processes.

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