Avoiding the Hazards of Courageous Marketing
BY Lauren Milewski
October 25, 2022

It’s not easy to be the “Bold Marketer” or a “Courageous Marketer.” It’s safer to do things that have been done, to prove things that have been proven. After all, there’s a lot on the line–revenue, opportunity, reputation … not to mention your own job.

The thing is, when you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. So how do you turn your marketing up a notch without worrying that your idea is too far out there, veering into irresponsible?

You can be bold without being reckless, but there’s an art to that. Let’s dig in.

Take risks, but make them calculated risks

Ever been told to try something to see if it “sticks”? That’s a great strategy for checking the done-ness of your pasta. But when it comes to B2B marketing, trying things out can be time-consuming, expensive and just plain unrealistic.

However, the alternative is unpredictable, unruly and unmeasurable marketing. All the makings of an ephemeral, fleeting waste of time and money wrapped into a marketing campaign. You know, the type of thing that gets people fired.

Strategy (hopefully) drives most of the campaigns out there, but are they working? Ask yourself if what you’re saying is actually speaking to your potential buyers.

Your clients have all kinds of challenges, and your goal is to investigate thoroughly enough so the remedies you offer target their exact concerns. By doing so, you can come up with creative ways to let them know you can solve their problems without wondering if you’re even targeting the right problem.

Start with asking questions. Gather data through customer surveys, quizzes, polls and conversations. Use software services like Typeform and Survey Monkey. Take advantage of social media platforms. Set up virtual or in-person coffee chats to pick the brains of your current customers and prospects. Keep your questions short and poignant because nobody has time for that.

And most importantly, collecting information like this allows you to lean on this data not only for your own campaign insights but also for defending the boldness of your campaign. This is not only the knowledge you need to move forward courageously, it’s building the confidence you need to withstand the slings and arrows of the doubters that will inevitably appear along the way.

First, give them what they want. Then, give them what they need.

Providing something of value is a great way to build trust with your customers and prospects. And now that you know what their challenges are (see above!), you can whip up some highly valuable resources and recommendations via bold, exciting experiences.

A good example of this is the sci-fi podcast by General Electric entitled The Message, which follows a fictional scientist who is attempting to decode messages from extraterrestrial subjects using GE technology.

In order to truly capture the interest of their audience, GE had to focus on what would engage them most: an entertaining storyline without superfluous mentions of their own products, which they were smart enough to realize would turn off the audience.

The Message has generated over five million downloads and has successfully helped change the perception of the company with a memorability and entertainment value that is long-lasting.

By using your customer’s language and an interesting experience, you can keep them coming back until eventually, they’re ready to buy.

Be brave

Let’s be honest—being bold and courageous will put you outside your comfort zone. That’s just how it works. The bigger the risk the bigger the reward. Don’t be afraid to say something you know might be unpopular. If you can back it with the knowledge you’ve gained from talking to your customers, along with proven examples, you’ll be on the right track to gaining the brand awareness, authority and memorability you’re looking for.

In the book Return on Courage, author Ryan Berman talks about the Domino’s Pizza #newpizza campaign that brought them back from the proverbial dead. As the basis of the campaign, Domino’s took full responsibility for their undesirable pizza recipe (Oh Yes We Did), which would make way for touting their new one.

Within months, the vulnerability of admitting their mistakes helped the company connect more solidly to their audience, and the now-famous turnaround campaign took their revenues from moldy to “Mmmm, delicious.”

The time is now to say bold things differently

It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it.

While it’s important not to recklessly try everything out there, it’s also important to lean into what’s available and think about being ahead of the curve. Definitely take advantage of “old” tech like email and video and Web 2.0, but also start thinking about ways to uplevel your content experiences using bold new tech like AR, VR and the metaverse, a.k.a. Web 3.0. The medium is the message.

Customers are weary and over-marketed to, so if the content you’re providing not only educates but entertains using cool and interesting new methods, you’ll be unforgettable.

Experiences like Story Streams (check this one out) are a great starting point. But don’t shy away from interactive and real-time experiences like those found in other worlds and spaces within the metaverse. Take what’s working in B2C and figure out what could work in the B2B world. This doesn’t require a totally new idea; look to see what’s been worked elsewhere, and consider whether it can be adapted to your world.

Not shock value, share value.

Reckless marketers can get noticed by creating shock value, the type of thing that gets everybody talking.

But the cynical old line that “all press is good press” is no longer true (if it ever was). Admittedly, politicians and celebrities might dispute that, but I’m not buying what most of them are selling.

Our goal is not to merely get attention for our brand, it’s to get positive attention for the brand. Positive feelings lead to trust lead to a relationship lead to a sale.

So be courageous, not reckless.

Let’s talk about growing your company.

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