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Today's Marketing Cookie - The Greatest Risk
"The greatest risk is not taking one."
Today's fortune came from Martin Kenney of Marlborough, MA. Martin is the President of Martin Stevens Consulting Group, offering promotional products for corporations and organizations with expertise in imprinted products, logoed apparel, commercial printing, packaging, signage and marketing consultation. His company will make you look good.
Today's Marketing Cookie is more true in marketing than perhaps any other career, because everything in marketing is a risk. What message will resonate most with my audience, compared to what my competitor is saying? How can I be more funny in my marketing without being too silly? If I am irreverent in my ads, will my company just look disrespectful? Should I run an advertising blitz or should I run ads on a slow, even pace? What if it doesn't work?
Risk is scary, but being boring can be the kiss of death. In fact, I've found that the "safer" a campaign feels, the less likely it is to work. You need to step out there and take some risks!
I remember one year my whole family watched the entire season of American Idol. Katharine McPhee had made it to the top five and blew the world away by singing, "Black Horse and a Cherry Tree". She took huge risks! While all of the other contestants danced all over the stage, she sat and kneeled on the floor, and simply let her voice steal the show. She sang the song in her own way, and the judges all said they liked her version of the song better than the original. It felt like we had just watched the performance that would win the entire contest.
The next week she knocked us out with "Hound Dog" and "All Shook Up" by Elvis. Then as part of the final three, she sang an incredible rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and she seemed to be absolutely unstoppable. Katharine had made it all the way to the Finale and my entire family couldn't wait to see what she would do next. How would she push her limits this week? What unbelievable song would she modify to blow us all away? We couldn't wait to hear something fresh, new and innovative. She had been taking risks throughout the season and the Finale would surely be her biggest night!
Well, she didn't take risks. She came out and used her big moment in the limelight to sing "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" again. Yes. She simply sang them again. No change. No variation. No risks. It was disappointing and unremarkable and someone else, whom I can't remember, won the prize.
You may have come up with a killer campaign at some point, but you can't ride on that train forever. You must continue to take risks, be fresh, new, and innovative in order to keep your audience interested. Don't rest on your past successes, otherwise the prize will go to someone else. I've learned that the greatest marketing is often the riskiest, and the greatest risk is not taking one.