“Don’t shoot the messenger. It is only bad news if you don’t act on it” is my current motto for my clients. As a believer in informed (evidence-based) decision-making, information is value-neutral. It is not a moral judgment on a previous decision. Simply put we cannot always be right. In fact, even brand darlings make mistakes.

It is critical that we embrace all feedback, positive or negative, about what we are doing.

Even in business we are constantly engaged in a creative process: decisions are just our attempt to create a solution to a perceived problem. Being creative means taking risk; not being complacent or risk averse. I’d rather take risks than not create something even if sometimes the feedback I get is not what I hoped.

Market research is all about providing feedback and the strategic advice on how to move forward. Sometimes that feedback may seem like bad news: the concept is not appealing to consumers; the ad did not have its intended effect; our customers are not positive about the experience we are creating. As a consequence, there is an inherent desire to sugar-coat the results, deflect blame and spin the results positively. All of that effort is counterproductive because it keeps us doing the same thing with the same results.

We should find the positive but not at the expense of improving and sometimes abandoning unsuccessful ideas. Since no one (I assume) starts out trying to fail, when the results are not as we hoped, it is an opportunity to do better. Understand consumers better, improve our advertising, and change the experience we are creating.

So don’t think of me as a bearer of bad news. Think of me as a signpost, keeping you on the path to success.