Stepping out of the Marketing Comfort Zone
One of our biggest challenges as marketers is to inspire customers and keep them coming back to a brand again and again. At Content Marketing World 2014, a common theme was using moments of inspiration and storytelling to build customer relationships with a brand. We know this cannot be done by telling the same narrative over and over. Sometimes, we need to challenge ourselves – and our clients – to go a step or two outside our comfort zone and take a risk to tell a story in a new way.
I would have loved to hear the board room conversation when the idea for West Jet’s Christmas video was first shared. I’m sure there was someone questioning the unknowns (what items would people place on their wish lists, how would budget be determined, was there really enough time to buy and deliver all the gifts to the luggage carousel), but also a passionate advocate encouraging the team to think of the benefits: increased brand recognition, positive brand association and potentially increased sales.
Ultimately, it was a calculated risk that delivered sharable content with an emotional connection to more than 36 million YouTube viewers.
Other brands have experienced more trial and error with their risk-taking. McDonald’s created the hashtag #McDStories to encourage online sharing of customer experiences. Rather than distributing positive posts and tweets, brand bashers used the hashtag to highlight negative experiences.
But, McDonald’s didn’t use that as an excuse to stop trying new things. The company’s “Our Food. Your Questions.” Program in Canada encourages customers to submit their questions about the restaurants food and get real answers. With some rules in place to help manage inquiries, the company has answered more than 9,000 customer questions since its launch in 2012 and helped to improved transparency around an easily sensationalized issue.
There’s no doubt that taking risks can be scary business. But, marketers and content creators are charged with taking thoughtful risks to tell a brand’s whole story. Here are some points for consideration as you weigh your next risky possibility:
Why are we taking the risk? Understanding rationale for an assignment is always important, but when it’s something outside a company’s comfort zone, it’s especially vital to have thorough, strategic reasoning for how this tactic or plan will benefit the brand.
Are we staying “on brand” with this risk? Risks should illuminate the brand essence in new and interesting ways, not work against it. As a nonconformist challenger brand, Dollar Shave Club can get away with a quirky, irreverent video. Most brands can’t.
What’s the worst that could happen? A big part of our job is to anticipate outcomes, starting with the client’s reaction and extending to what customers will ask/think/need/do as a result of a campaign or message. When creating content that pushes a brand’s comfort level, we must think through possible ramifications and be prepared to address outcomes.
If this fails, will we try again? It hurts to get burned, and even good ideas don’t always succeed. But, the best long-view marketers are able to take the lessons learned and apply them to future campaigns, rather than being afraid to try anything new.
Can taking a risk or two be scary? Of course. But it’s worth it to help reach and inspire customers in new ways.
What are some marketing risks you’ve seen be successful?