Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What Every Marketer Needs To Do: Take Risks

The concept of risk taking in marketing is something that I believe every marketer must do.  I came to this viewpoint after hearing over and over in various different things I have read/listened to.  In marketing, there really is "death in the middle".

Most recently, the idea came up in Mitch Joel's podcast, Six Pixels of Separation in a discussion he has with Sally Hogshead around her book Fascinate.  Long story short, the conversation boils down to the fact that in order to influence people and change behaviour, we need to fascinate them.  In order to fascinate, there 7 triggers, which are explained a bit more in this Globe and Mail article

For example, if you want to fascinate somebody you need to trigger lust.  Not love, not like - lust.  And like all of these triggers, they are not "middle of road" type emotions.  They are extreme and they live on the outer edges of the human experience.  As a marketer, you need to push to the edges in order to realize the gains of that trigger. 

Seth Godin also talks about this concept often and it is one of the cornerstones of his new book, Linchpin.  If you're going to inspire change in people and organizations, then you need to stick your neck out and take a chance.  You need to push the envelope.

This is exactly what makes marketing fun.  This is why I believe people get into marketing in the first place.  You can do all the research you want, you can segment the market as carefully as you want but in the end, you need to stick your neck out and push for the edges. 

The idea also came up again in a Duct Tape Marketing podcast I listened to back in December.   The podcast is a discussion with Martin Lindstrom who wrote "Buy-ology" which looks at why we buy things.  One of his findings:  You need to slap people in the chin.  Doesn't sound too safe to me!  The idea there is that people need to be "slapped" in order to sit up and take notice of what you're offering. 

It is important to say that I am not advocating for needless risk taking.  And there is a distinction that needs to be made between pushing for the edges and p*ssing people off with your delivery.  For example: Sending a message with strong imagery versus sending that same message over and over until the respondent opens the message and unsubscribes.  There must be a distinction between tactic and delivery. 

Here are some suggestions for how you can incorporate all of this into your marketing activity/process.

  1. Check your pulse.  Does what you're doing make your heart beat fast?  If not, I suspect you're not pushing it enough.
  2. Ask your co-workers.  If everyone likes it and sees it the same way, then you're probably not going to cause a strong reaction among your audience.  
  3. Brainstorm.  I suggest coming up with ideas and then ranking from 1 (safe) to 10 (risky) so that you can see and understand how you can ratchet things up a little bit.
  4. Start Fresh.  Scrap everything you have done before.  Forget about it and see what new ideas or approaches you can come up with.  If somebody suggests something similar to your old work, toss it out and keep going.

1 comment:

Jackson Wightman said...

Yes indeed!

I'll steal a bit from Godin too: In the West many of us have more "things" than we need and a tonne available for purchase anytime.

As such, you better stick out.