Courageous marketing is the antithesis of going along to get along. It involves taking a stand and responding without trying to please everyone. But there’s a fine line between being responsive and being reckless. Understanding what courageous marketing is involves knowing what it isn’t. Here are five misconceptions about marketing with courage.
Myth: Courageous marketing is spontaneous
Marketing with courage doesn’t just happen spur-of-the-moment. An impulsive idea without premeditation and strategy behind it isn’t courageous—it’s careless. Courageous marketing is rooted in knowledge and planning. It involves answering big questions to understand yourself, your organization and your goals.
Who are you? What are you trying to accomplish? Who is your audience, and what do they care about? What message do you need to communicate? How do you need to deliver your message? What tools are you using? Is there a better way to get the job done?
Courageous marketing doesn’t happen without considering these big questions. Having a firm sense of self and your organizational role takes time and experience, not to mention getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. Moving in a new direction often leads to scrutiny, questioning and skepticism. Knowing who you are and having the confidence to execute a new plan takes time. These skills don’t just develop overnight.
Myth: Courageous marketing is risky
Taking risks is a good thing, as long as those risks are backed by data. Courageous marketing isn’t guesswork. It involves calculated, data-informed decisions, not unpredictable strategies that waste time and money. It’s about measuring the effectiveness of your efforts and making adjustments based on the results.
Consider the Gap logo fiasco of 2010. When they replaced their highly recognizable logo with a new design, it led to immediate consumer backlash, resulting in the reinstatement of the original logo just six days later and an estimated cost of $100 million.
If you’re shifting your branding or marketing strategy, lower the potential of a negative response by doing your homework. Start by researching your audience. Your job is to understand their problems so you can come up with unique ways to address their concerns. Gather data and listen to outside input to boost confidence in your strategy, gain buy-in from stakeholders and eliminate uncertainty. Some level of risk is inevitable, but those risks become much smaller when a plan is in place.
Myth: Courageous marketing doesn’t fit into my day-to-day strategy
Courageous marketing doesn’t involve one Big Moment. It’s built incrementally through daily actions that contribute toward your ultimate goal. The totality of these efforts, repeated day in and day out over time, is where you’ll see success. Every step in the right direction counts.
Consider a supermarket chain whose marketing strategy relies heavily on traditional print ads and billboard space. In contrast, their competitors shifted their approach to leverage online advertising, phone apps, QR code discounts and more. As a result of continuing to do what they’ve always done and not adapting to the digital landscape, customers forgot about the supermarket chain and started shopping elsewhere. By refusing to modernize its day-to-day marketing strategy, the supermarket chain in question failed to stay relevant because it wasn’t effectively reaching its audience.
Courageous marketing involves setting aside time every day to do the work. Consistency is key. It’s easy to find excuses, just like it’s easy to smile, nod and agree to an idea that you know deep down isn’t going to move the needle. But is that who you want to be? Where does going with the flow get you?
Myth: Courageous marketing is a solo endeavor
It takes one person to question the status quo, but it takes a team to develop a campaign, launch, measure success and evolve accordingly. Courageous marketing might start with one team member, but personal investment from your entire group is invaluable.
A courageous marketing campaign starts with a solid belief in what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. A loyal support system is a key differentiator that can take you to the next level. Success doesn’t happen alone, and neither does courageous marketing.
Myth: Other people have marketing courage, but not me
Courageous marketing is not some unlearnable skill that a few lucky marketers inherently have. Believe it or not, courageous marketing can be taught, and you’re capable of learning it. Practicing courageous marketing allows for progress and growth. The more opportunities you give yourself to go against the grain and embrace disagreement in the workplace, the more experience you gain in marketing with courage, and taking a stand for what you believe in.