How do you handle risk? Are you aggressive or passive with your campaigns? Do you think your job is to mitigate risk? Do you believe success is bred only when you instigate risk? Recently I read an article by Joseph Jaffe called Rewarding Risk and it made me contemplate how we think about risk, or rather how we should be thinking about risk.
Now I must be honest, Mr Jaffe is advocating risk in his article. He’s also writing for the United States Postal Service magazine and suggesting that companies be more aggressive with their direct marketing, and from this I assume their mailings. There is nothing wrong with that, but I want you to consider risk in a different light.
The Constant within Change
In times of change, risk is the only factor that remains constant. In today’s uncertain times, how you perform your role as marketer could be an important aspect to the success or failure or your organization. Doing nothing allows a competitor to act and take a position within your space. Taking aggressive marketing actions could cause you to dwindle your reserves and leave you weak when you may need to react to a competitor’s aggressive move.
So what is the answer? Do we focus on playing it safe? Do we become very selective in our approaches and try a minimalist approach until the economic times improve? Here is something I want you to consider.
The Mitigator Statues
OK, so how many are there? Someone point them out to me. Show me the place where we honor those fallen heroes of avoided risk. So how many statues, monuments, renamed schools or streets, plaques, or even little plastic trophies are out there for the following:
- kept their company safe from spending money that might not have been needed
- avoided a trip that may have been a disaster
- Kept a department happy and safe by avoiding the potential of failure due to a tough project
- never got fired because you refused to stick your neck out for something you thought was right
Let’s face it. We don’t honor the people who avoid risk. We like to keep them around so we have reminders of what not to be, but we don’t honor them.
I think Karl von Clausewitz stated this best:
“Some statesmen and generals try to avoid the decisive battle. History has destroyed this illusion.”
Practice Marketing Warfare – Darwin’s survival of the fittest living out right before our eyes. The customer wins when the strongest company, product, or service survives and walks off the battlefield.
Fail Often, Fail BIG – If the next project you work on isn’t making your stomach churn with acid reflux because you have it all hanging out there, then quit marketing and join a PR firm. I hear they love working on Risk Mitigation.
Continuously Improve Yourself – never think you know it all. Never stop reading. Never stop going to school. Never stop teaching. Never stop!
Narrow Your Focus – apply your strengths and talents with the greatest possible force on the target or objective at hand. Go into every assignment with a superiority that assumes you will succeed.
“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorius triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Jaffe, J. (2008, November). Rewarding Risk. Deliver, 4, page 5