September 16, 2018 | Blog

Why Taking Risks is a Risk Worth Taking

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Here’s a scenario that we see all too often. A client comes to us and says that they want to boost their sales by trying something new. We hear things like:

We run with it, because after all, it’s exciting to try something new for a client! But then when the time comes to pull the trigger and move from concept to execution, the classic cold feet syndrome kicks in and our concepts die a slow and painful death. Here’s why we urge you to reconsider your decision to play it safe.

We all know Einstein’s saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” This is especially relevant to your advertising efforts. If you have tunnel vision and you don’t explore the possibilities that are outside of what you’re already doing, then it would be unreasonable to expect much to change. We understand that trying something new can be intimidating because of the cost involved and the fear of failure, but sometimes doing something unexpected is what’s needed to take your business to the next level.

We were recently at a marketing conference and the presenter said something that stuck with us. “Everyone wants to be first to be second.” What does this mean? It means that the majority of people are too afraid to be the first one to try something new. They want to be the next to do it after somebody else has taken the plunge and proven that it’s not going to result in failure. But who do you think is most remembered? We’ll give you a hint, it’s not the one who was first to claim second place.

Did you know that Thomas Edison failed 1,000 times before inventing the lightbulb? What if he had been sitting around waiting to be second in line? We could all still be sitting here in the dark! And Steve Jobs, a college dropout, went on to develop the company that would create the computer I’m typing on at this very moment. Although it’s important to be aware of the possibility of failure, don’t let this dictate your next marketing decision. Learn from some of the greatest minds in history and embrace the possibilities that come with a risk of failure. After all, failure is an inherent part of this industry. There’s always some risk of it, but it’s not really failure if you use the information gathered from it to help determine your next move.

Now let’s be clear, taking risks doesn’t mean that we’re asking you to dive headfirst into the shallow end of a pool (even though it might feel like that’s what’s happening). There are certain things you can do to ensure that you’re being smart about stepping out of your comfort zone.

DO YOUR RESEARCH.

Know your target and know the results of your past marketing efforts. You should be able to easily defend your decision to try something new if somebody starts to question your decision (or your sanity).

This is a great commercial for Purple Mattress Protectors. Every time I watch it I can’t help but imagine what that conversation must have been like when this concept was pitched. “How about we show what it would be like if a sasquatch used our mattress protector!!” It seems totally ridiculous, right?! Had I been in that meeting, I probably would’ve wondered how many drinks were consumed before this idea was born. And yet the video has almost 100 million views on YouTube and nearly 5,500 comments. Not too shabby for a product as stale as a mattress protector. Suddenly, crazy doesn’t seem so crazy after all. And although a sasquatch using a mattress protector seems totally off the wall, rest assured there was method to this madness.

IF YOU’RE GOING TO DO CRAZY, MAKE SURE YOU DO CRAZY RIGHT.

A crazy idea that is poorly executed is a recipe for disaster. Imagine if Jack Nicholson would’ve taken a half-assed approach to his role in “The Shining.” It wouldn’t have worked. The crazier your idea is, the more important it is to make sure that the creative execution is dialed in. We beg of you, don’t do a poor job of trying something new for your brand. (Note to self – having us on your team will ensure that this doesn’t happen.)

WHEN FEAR OF FAILURE STARTS CREEPING IN, REMIND YOURSELF OF THE POTENTIAL GAINS. 

Now seems like the perfect time to talk about the new Nike commercial featuring Colin Kaepernick. Talk about doing something risky! After viewing the commercial, 21% of people said they would stop buying Nike products, and some even went as far as to rip the Nike logo off their gear or burn their shoes while still wearing them. Yet a post-launch poll showed that 29% of males in their target said they would buy more Nike products.

John Gerzema, CEO of the Harris Poll said, “Nike took a strategic risk to alienate some customers in order to appeal to their core base of 18-to-29-year old males. It was a calculated move to become a more polarizing brand and it seems to have worked.” Additionally, Nike shares reached an all-time high after the new campaign launched and gained an additional 170,000 instagram followers in less than 2 weeks.

Airing this commercial was a huge risk for the brand, but they placed greater weight on the potential gains. Is this level of risk appropriate for most clients? Typically not, but it’s a great example of a company that didn’t let potential failure or anticipated criticism deter them.

Keep in mind, our mention of this spot is not an indicator of whether or not we support Colin Kaepernick. However, it’s worthy of discussion because we admire Nike for their willingness to do something so edgy that it provokes some people to rip off the swoosh! Not to mention, all controversy set aside, this is our #2 mentioned above at its finest. This is a beautifully produced spot. Nike knows how to run with a risky idea, no question about it. Time will tell whether or not this risk paid off in the long run.

TRACK YOUR RESULTS AND RE-EVALUATE.

As with any campaign, you should have your methods for tracking success established before launching. Especially if you’re going to make the effort to do something new, you sure as heck better make sure you’re going to measure its effectiveness. Don’t just launch then consider it done. Give your campaign time to get traction, measure the results on a regular basis to identify trends, and make sure you’re moving in the right direction. After doing so, we’ll help you determine your next steps.

We love the philosophy that it’s easy to reward success, but it’s just as important to reward intelligent failure. In other words, don’t be afraid to try something new, even if it’s risky! When your desire to do something non-traditional kicks in, we’ll help you push the envelope in the smartest way possible.

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