Why Taking Risks in Marketing is Anything But Risky

Robin Emiliani  /  Oct 05, 2017

Marketing is one of those industries and professions that everyone thinks they can do. Similar to the naysayer art critic who walks into a Museum of Modern Art and proclaims “my three-year-old could do that” so goes the critique of any branding or marketing campaign.

The rub is, not everyone can do it well, and sometimes we all need encouragement – or the help of a consultant – to push that proverbial envelope.  In fact, in a crowded marketplace that experiences communication overload filled with audiences that are no longer captive… the ability to take risks in strategy and creative actually has become a requirement.

Terms like “playing it safe” “industry standard” or “tried and true” are expletives as far as we are concerned. All ideas may be good ideas in a brainstorm, but these are bad words that should never be uttered in Catalyst offices.

Doesn’t the saying go: “Well Behaved Marketers Seldom Make History?” (a quotation this hotly contested could be argued either way.)

So who do we look to for inspiration? The rule-benders, early-adopters, and the dance-to-your-own-beaters of course.

  • Ludicrous ideas
    The marriage of brands and sports started back when Anheuser-Busch purchased the St. Louis Cardinals in 1953. Initially, the company experienced push-back from the league on the naming rights, but ended up opening the doors of Busch Stadium for the Cardinal’s 1954 season. Thus, opening the doors to billions of positive brand impressions and paving the way for naming rights as a lucrative – not ludicrous – marketing tactic.
  • Pushing boundaries
    Ten years ago Dove challenged the world to redefine how it thought about beauty. YouTube had just become a thing, yet Dove’s video “Evolution” went viral and kick-started a wildly successful campaign spreading a social message.
  • Adopting new technology
    Did you know that 50% of pizza sales today are ordered through apps? The pizza delivery industry has been hugely transformed by new technology and those who were quick to catch on were able to ride this wave of success.

The truth is, each of these bold moves was no doubt evaluated and tested, weighing out its risks and rewards. The difference is not only a new idea, but a willingness to put it all out there and trust that the data, the research, the knowledge that you have in your product or service will always win out… if we just do it. Listen to the old adage: “If you try, you risk failure. If you don’t, you ensure it.”



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