Win or Learn – Your only two outcomes

Our youngest son wrestled in high school.

He started wrestling in grade 9 and was in the 103 lb weight class (he was pre-growth spurt). Watching 103 lb wrestlers compete was a blast. They are extremely fast, but most don’t have much muscle, so they can’t make the power moves.

We were on our way to a tournament one Saturday morning when our son got a text from his coach. The opposing team didn’t have anyone in his weight class, so he would have to “wrestle up.” This means he would have to wrestle someone in a heavier weight class.

When we arrived, his coach informed him that he would be wrestling in the 130 lb class. Ouch!!

Our son had been training hard and had won some matches in the 103 lb bracket. But taking on a 130 lb wrestler scared the heck out of him.

We sat in the bleachers before his match, and he pointed to the boy he’d be wrestling. He was heavier, taller, had gone through his growth spurt, and was 130 lbs of solid muscle.

I asked him, “What is the worst that can happen?” “I lose,” he replied.

“What if you don’t lose?” I asked. “Well, I doubt I will win,” he replied.

I explained that he was not expected to win. No one would imagine that he could, looking at the size difference.

“What if you learned?” was my next question. He looked at me blankly.

“Win or learn – those are your two options,” I said.

He wrestled his best, but the other boy was too strong. He didn’t win. He learned.

He learned that his training had paid off. He learned that he could hold his own with a heavier opponent because of his speed. He walked away pleased with himself. Not only did he face his fears, but he also realized that learning is an acceptable outcome.

I love the idea of winning or learning. If those are your only options, then failing doesn’t exist.

This is why I love using marketing to grow a business. If the marketing strategy works, you have a home run, and your business grows. If it doesn’t work, you learn.

A marketing strategy has four major components (the 4 M’s); the target Market, the Message, the Media, and the Moment. You have to get all four M’s right for a strategy to be a winner.

There are no absolutes in marketing. Everything should be looked at as a test. If the test works, great. However, what can you learn if the test doesn’t work?

Was the target market right?
Are their local families who need your service?
Can they find you when they need you?
Can they afford what you are offering?

Was the message right?
Is it an idea that families value or something you wish they valued?
Is the message easy to understand, or are you being too clever?
Does the message make you unique or just one of the many funeral homes in town?

Was the media right?
Do enough people consume the media you choose?
Did your ad stand out, or did it blend in with the other ads?
Would winning more calls justify the cost of the media?

Was the moment right?
Did you time your advertising for when potential buyers were available?
Was it a time when they might be thinking about end-of-life issues?
Did you run your ads at a time when people were consumed by something else?

Also, did you do the work?
Did you invest enough in advertising to get a result?
Did you train your staff to answer the phone correctly?
Did you track your results, or are you guessing?

Marketing is the process of testing different combinations of Market, Message, Media, and Moment. If something doesn’t work, you must take the time to learn from it so that you don’t repeat the mistake.

By grade 11, our son had gone through his growth spurt. He was solid muscle and wrestling in the 130 lb weight class.

At a tournament, he ended up wrestling the boy who had beaten him two years early. He remembered what he had learned from their first match, but now he had the strength to do what his 103 lb body couldn’t.

Not only did he win, but he pinned his opponent in 30 seconds.

You only lose in marketing, business, or life if you don’t learn.

Nelson Mandela once said, “I never lose. I either win, or I learn.” I love that!

If your business is struggling and you feel defeated, learn from it. Then gain some new skills, develop a new plan, and keep going!

Until next time,


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