Risk \ noun \
Risk in financial terms is the chance that an outcome or investment’s actual gains will differ from an expected outcome or return (Investopedia).
The tradeoff between risk and return in finance is well-understood. You want a higher return, generally speaking, you need to do something where the probability of the outcome is less certain.
Marketing risk works the exact same way – the ROI you can expect on your marketing efforts is going to be commensurate with the amount of risk you are willing to assume. So, just as it’s unreasonable to expect outsized investment returns without an occasional loss along the way, it’s equally unreasonable to expect investors to fawn all over you (“outsized returns”) if you aren’t also willing to accept that some may see you as too different (“perception risk”).
Before going on, it’s probably worth clarifying what we mean by “marketing risk” before your compliance officer starts experiencing heart palpitations or develops a tic. We aren’t talking about aerial banners or billboard advertising. We’re simply suggesting that you push beyond a DYI marketing deck, “me, too” language, and random outbound phone calls.
Instead…be something. Make a statement and then own it. I mean really own it by building a story that risks making you look and sound different. And then accept that by doing so, you may turn some people off. It’s okay to bring emotion into language and inspire people with design. Consider the value of plowing some of that money allocated rent and office décor into your digital presence – because after all, ‘they’ are much more likely to come across your website and LinkedIn profile then visit your office.
In a nutshell, take a chance. There is much less downside than you might think – but likely a whole lot more upside. Besides, with so much competition out there, isn’t much riskier to just play it safe like everyone else?