September 5, 2011 Category:

It’s a Jungle Out There

Working with a lot of small business owners, I accordingly have the pleasure to work with a lot of forward-thinking entrepreneur-types. It takes a lot of drive and persistence to run a business; in addition to a lot of passion, vision, imagination, and like it or not, the willingness to take risks.

This willingness to take risks is a big part of growing a business. In the beginning, yes, you’ve got to have a foundation and a solid plan, but moving forward you have got to take risks. Without risks your company and your product will fall into the mundane, and be subject to mediocrity.

One of my past clients was a great inventor, always thinking beyond the typical and coming up with extraordinary products. For the sake of story-telling we’ll call him Brad. So, I was in the process of developing an marketing campaign and new product packaging for Brad, and in the first meeting, Brad exuberantly stressed that he wanted to stand out from his competitors. He wanted to make sure what ever I came up with in the new marketing campaign that it reflected that awesome innovative quality of his company.

About a week or so later, Brad and I met again for me to reveal the new marketing campaign. As I did, he stood there motionless. “We can’t do this”, he said, “No one has done this before. This is so different.” Immediately I realized that fear had set in. We had entered a realm that Brad was not familiar with. This was not the innovation and reveal of his new product. This was the marketing campaign for his new product. This was unfamiliar territory.

When it comes to a client’s personal product, they know how to push the envelope. They know their industry well, and they know how to take risks pushing their product to new levels. This same new energy needs to be applied in marketing. Risks in marketing are just as important as risks in product development.

So, here I was standing next to Brad the great inventor who was frozen like a deer in the headlights. This new marketing campaign was a risk. It was visually totally different from anything his competitors had put forth in the marketplace. Exactly what he wanted and what his product needed. But, this thought of being different filled Brad with uneasiness.

When you are stepping outside the box, this uneasiness can not be helped. This uneasiness is part of the excitement of innovation. In the jungle, this uneasiness is part of the hunt, part of the risk of the hunt. If we turn risk into calculated risk are we snuffing out the vibrant energy of the imaginative qualities that are present with new products and new campaigns?

Questions to ask when creating a new marketing approach that feels outside the comfort zone, yet necessary for growth:

1. Does it still represent the true essence (mission) of the company while still moving forward?

2. Is the personality (branding) of the company still present in the campaign?

3. Does it approach your target audience?

4. Will it set you apart from your competitors? Don’t be afraid to be distinct.

5. Does it create an emotional response leading to either a dialog between you and your consumer or response to action?

You can’t be a lion in the marketplace and still play it safe. It’s a jungle out there. Be the lion. Don’t be afraid to roar, they might actually hear you. Roar!