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Negativity can also be the secret to success

I hate every single thing that comes out of Digital Pudding. Every website. Every ad campaign. Every deliverable that we hand over to a client. I hate them all. That’s what makes them so good.

How can I say that? Hear me out. One of the ways I know we’re doing right by our clients is by hating what we do. Why? Because if I hate it, then I know it’s not perfect. If it’s not perfect, that means it can be improved if it falls short of expectations. It also bodes well for when a client’s vision contrasts with our own, as well as when the market has its say.

In fact, I credit a good deal of our success as a business to the fact that I absolutely hate all of our work. It makes us nimbler. It makes us stronger. It makes us able to adapt, change and pivot when necessary. All because we aren’t beholden to the power of the perfect idea.

The Danger of Falling in Love with Your Work

Many creatives work for hours to put together flawless designs and strong copy. They know they’re done when their new creation is absolutely the embodiment of everything they ever hoped it could be. It’s bulletproof.

We’re a little different. Although we do the same thing, dedicating time to create the right strategy and deliverables, we don’t admire our output to the same degree. We go for “this will work” as opposed to “this is perfect,” and with good reason.

When you absolutely love a project, it makes it impossible to edit it in the future. You believe your brainchild is perfect just the way it is and how dare anyone say anything negative about it. That type of thinking can lead to decisions that negatively impact your campaign and your clients.

First, clients always come back with changes to everything. This is known and expected. Some creative agencies become extremely defensive when challenged. Since we’re not especially attached to what we’ve presented, we hear criticism and act on it. While we explain why we did what we did and why we believe it makes sense, we’re always open to making edits where necessary. The goal is to execute something that works, not something that we love. That flexibility is our secret to success.

Second, being blind to any imperfections in your work can mean you’re blind to any weaknesses you may have, which become more magnified upon execution. Since in your mind it can’t be your fault, you begin to blame everything else. In reality, you might be the source of the problem, which you’ll never see so long as you believe your work is flawless.

The Market Will Tell You When to Get Excited

In this business, it’s all about results. We can have the best intentions. We can have groundbreaking ideas. We can have sterling creative. If the market doesn’t react the way we want them to (usually by spending money on our clients), then we’ve failed. It’s that simple

Then what? As we point fingers and assign blame, it could be that our ideas, our campaign and our message weren’t as perfect as we thought they were. Instead of adhering to what isn’t working and insisting that it just has to if we give it long enough (and spend more money), our team pivots to something new, trying to solve this problem from a different angle.

Here’s an example of our strategy. When building a Facebook ad campaign, we start with a single message and multiple images. They’re all images that we believe will work. Yet one or two always outperform the others. We then select the best performing images and add different copy lines, testing each against the same image. From there, we come up with our best performing ads, then optimize creative that way from there on out.

We come into this experimentation believing something will work, even if it’s not the perfect thing that we believe will work the best. That’s the secret to success in digital advertising. Ultimately, it’s not about what we like or don’t. It’s about finding results that everyone likes.

Proud of Doing Work We Hate

I want to be very clear about one thing. This not liking your work is not the same as not being proud of your work. We’re proud of everything we do at Digital Pudding, even if I don’t personally like it. There’s pride in authorship, even for the worst books. This post refers specifically to having so much pride in what you’ve done that it’s untouchable. That’s not a good feeling, especially when it falls short of expectations.

We approach what we do at Digital Pudding a little differently. While we may not always love what comes out of our digital agency, we do want it to work more than anything. This passionate detachment truly is the secret to our success. Spread it around.

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