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Why this checklist is so ​IMPORTANT: A detailed story of how I screwed up in a major way. 


I share this story as both a learning experience and also to share how to “own-up when you screw up.”

The story starts the day before I had to tell my boss I lost $10,000 of client's money.

That night was sleepless. I had spent 25% of our client's budget on our first day of running ads.

When I got to the office I told my business partner something bad had happened.

“How bad is it?”

$10,000 in ad spend in one day. 25% of  our client’s budget.

And the results were terrible.

“Can we fix it over the course of the month?”

I told him  "I think so. We can make the numbers look better by the end of the month and meet our projections. We will have to explain the front-loading of the campaign spend, but we can hit our targets if we manage this closely."

“Ok, well I don’t think it sets a good standard to bury this in the numbers. We need to call them and tell them you screwed up. I can take the blame.”

My business partner volunteered to take a bullet for me, even though it wasn’t his fault. That's great leadership.

Short-term embarrassment can lead to long-term relationships

We got on the phone and told the client about the screw-up. We told them we could turn things around.

They listened.

We offered to cover the inadvertent ad spend out of our own pocket.

They declined. 

We told them that we expected to be fired and would help them find a new agency.

They didn’t fire us.

They are still a client to this day.

Paid Search is a relationship business. We form unexpected bonds through adversity, and relationships are strengthened when you work through something together.

My screw up taught me about the importance of leadership, accountability and how to manage relationships.

And I never made that mistake again. 

Mistakes happen, take 2

My mistake wasn’t repeated. I learned my lesson.

But that doesn’t mean I didn’t see the same thing happen again. Fast forward two years.

After making a similar mistake, an employee came to me following a sleepless night.

He screwed up. He misspent a few thousand dollars on a client campaign through improper targeting.

“I usually triple-check my settings. I will quadruple-check from now on.”

He thought I was going to fire him on the spot.

Over two-thousand dollars.

We went through the scenario to understand the damage. It wasn’t that bad. Not nearly as bad as my screw-up.

So instead of dwelling on it, I told him the story about how I screwed even worse than he had.

And how I’m still here.

Everyone makes mistakes

We all screw up. I believe that the most important thing is how you apply those screw-ups to the next points of your career.

Life may be a checklist of the things you CAN do, but it should also be complemented with a list of the things you shouldn’t do.

You learn a lot more from your screw ups. You learn about people, relationships and how to become more resourceful over time.

Playing it safe severely stunts your ability to learn.

Don’t play it safe all of the time, but also don’t be an idiot.

Don’t try your best new technique on your biggest client.

Don’t launch a campaign before you go on a 2 week holiday to a tropical island.

Don’t be afraid. But maybe you don’t need to be a cowboy either.

We all screw up. That is what defines our future.

This checklist will help you launch better ad campaigns. Don't be like me, use this checklist! 

Talk soon,

Jeff Sauer

Founder of PPC Mastery Course

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