Within a relatively short time span, the EAG Advertising & Marketing team suffered a series of losses.
We lost a pitch. Our marketing strategy presentation made it through three rounds, and we were in the final round. That’s as far as we got. Why? We don’t know. The form letter didn’t state the reason. The chemistry was in the room, or as much as it can be over Zoom. So close, but no banana.
We lost a marketing executive. Turns out, after many months of her trying to make it work, her moving an hour away from our office in the Crossroads, having a baby and working mostly remotely wasn’t working out for her. We can’t compete with an adorable child and we aren’t relocating our office. While we know why we lost her, the loss stung none the less.
We lost a long-term client—a common consequence of the proverbial changing of the guard. The next generation took over this family-owned business, and as is common, they want to make their own mark. No bad blood. Nothing we did wrong. Just inevitable change. It happens.
Three losses in a row. Ouch.
Was it us? Could we, should we have done something different? Surely, it wasn’t us. We are solid across the board in winning pitch rates, as an employer and in client service. Yet, there is nothing quite like loss to make the fingers of blame wag. We, as humans, like to assign fault following a loss.
What now? Like other small businesses, we continue posting our best or interesting news on social media. We dust ourselves off and carry on doing exactly what we were doing before our losses. Easy enough. Like our parents told us, “You’ll live.” “Life’s not fair.” “You win some, you lose some.”
Yes, of course, move on. But, not so fast. Small businesses can use loss to catapult over hurdles to growth. Was it us? Hindsight gives us the best clues.
The new client pitch? We don’t know what it was about us. Without feedback it’s impossible to put our fingers on any one or several things. We’ve won new business since then, and we’ll continue to look for ways to improve our presentation skills.
The marketing executive? It was us. Kind of. In this case, there is nothing we can do. Our home is permanent. We can’t talk her husband into taking a job closer to Kansas City. We can’t compete with spending more time with your children.
The long-term client? Maybe it was us, but we can’t lay a finger of blame on anything specific. You can deliver exceptional service, stellar work and sound strategy, and still lose a client. All small business owners know this.
When facing a loss in business (for business owners, a business loss can feel very personal), reflection is necessary if you’re interested in adding value for clients and employees. There can be something to learn from loss, not always, but sometimes.
Take time to process. Make sense of it. Ask the questions. Is it random? Is it out of your control? Is there something you could have done, said or delivered better? And, accept the fact that no matter how much you reflect you may never know the answer why.
Losing sucks, but there will be other pitches. There will be new hires. There will be other clients. Wins come with loss, and wins are bound to come. When they do, make time to reflect on those wins as much as you do the losses.