Most dictionaries (including this one, this one, and this one) talk about risk from a negative point of view. Risk is a chance to suffer harm, possibility of injury, or how likely you are to expect a loss. Yikes! Why would anyone court risk?
Your Job = Risk
What dictionary definitions of risk omit, however, is that risk also offers opportunity. It gives you the chance to gamble (and win) big. And let me assure you: you cannot succeed in marketing if you aren't willing to take risks. It's just impossible.
So get over your fear of risk. It's easy to say and harder to do, I know. But consider how dangerous fear can be to your marketing initiatives. Lois Kelly had this to say in the recent Age of Conversation 2: "People are so fearful about being different that fresh ways of communicating are often never allowed their first breath." How sad.
Once you get over the fear of being different, of possibly failing, a world of possibilities opens up. Are you still worried? Well, maybe this will help tip the scales:
You've got no choice.
David Armano And Seth Godin On The Inevitability Of Risk
In a recent must-read post, succinctly titled "Everything Is Risky," David Armano outlines why risk is inevitable and therefore worth embracing.
"With every post I write, I'm taking a risk...When all roads lead to risk, there's only one thing we can do. Live. We live lift by learning, by trying, by falling down and getting up and learning from the best teacher we've ever had - life itself...Those who barricade themselves indoors thinking they avoid risk end up risking the quality of their social interactions."
If risk is inevitable, doesn't that change the definition of risk? Instead of just a chance to do harm or incur injury, risk allows for huge wins - it gives you the opportunity to succeed.
Everything is risky, all the time.
"It's all a risk - always. That's not true, actually. The only exception: It's a certainty that there's risk. The safer that you play your plans for the future, the riskier it actually is. That's because the world is certainly, definitely, and more than possibly changing." -Seth Godin, Tribes, audiobook 2:47:50
If all this is making you nervous, don't worry - it should. However, while risk may be inevitable, your return on that risk is anything but certain. That's where you come in as a professional marketer.
Our job as marketers is to manage this risk, not try to eliminate it. And we have more tools than ever to access information, review metrics, and make bold, calculated decisions. Joseph Jaffe has this to say in Join The Conversation:
"Mitigating risk is no longer a best practice...Risk is relative, and the return is most certainly going to be more and more a function of outthinking and outsmarting, compared to outspending and outlasting" (page 280).
Risk is inevitable. But failure is not.
Tomorrow I will discuss the role of failure in this new world of marketing. Instead of the permanence of a printed brochure or the 30-second lifespan of a television commercial, online marketing campaigns can (and should) be re-worked as situations require. In fact, failing can often bring the type of marketing insight that will eventually allow you to succeed on a massive scale.
Tomorrow, I will explain why failing can be the best thing to happen to your brand. Finally, on Friday I ill end this week-long series by discussing whether the recession could cause social media marketing to tip over into the mainstream. Please join us tomorrow by subscribing today. And take a risk today!
(Photo courtesy of hrlndspnks via Flickr)