How to Take a Risk in Business Without Being Risky

Blog post by: Drew Rhodes, Baer Performance Marketing Intern

In business, you have a product or a service, and your goal is to differentiate yourself from competitors in your market. If your market is crowded, and you, as a business, are repeating the same selling points as your competitors, your business will get lost at sea, and brand irrelevance is on the horizon.

Successful businesses also know how and when to take risks while avoiding being too risky. The word “risk” is a scary one. We are human and mostly just want to be comfortable, but most people and businesses that become successful will tell you that they didn’t get to where they are today without taking risks.


Understanding Your Market

When you begin developing a new marketing strategy for your service/product, you may ask yourself, “How do we take chances while staying true to our values and brand?”
It’s a tough question to answer–especially living in a world where consumers seem to be easily offended by everything.

You have to be careful, and before taking the leap, it’s important to get to know your target market and current customers through focus groups and surveys. Additionally, the risks you take with your brand should support your brand values. Consumers are increasingly seeking out authenticity in the brands they support.


Old Spice Took the Risk, Came Out On Top 

Old Spice is a perfect example of updating and reformatting a brand. They were known as the deodorant for “old men.” Today, they are the top deodorant in the market…all because they rebranded themselves. They wanted their brand to be “swaggerized,”and they did just that–now targeting men in the 18-34 year range (explains the commercials).

This was a big risk for them, but it paid off. The lesson here is: Your products might not change, but you can change how you present them. Knowing when to present it to the public is also important. Too early, and the market could take it the wrong way–too late, and you could be seen as a copycat. It’s also important to ensure that new content and new formats correlate directly with the brand you’re looking to project.


How do You Know When to Change Course?

There is no clear cut answer for this. Many companies struggle when deciding whether they should continue with a current marketing/creative plan or change it up. They often ask themselves, “Will this change bring in new customers or annoy faithful ones?”
There are many different factors that go into a decision on when to change, but the key is understanding your market and how customers feel toward you moving in a different direction. Again, market/customer research will provide a great deal of value here.


In Conclusion

Brands must evolve to stay afloat. That means taking risks without being risky. The smart brands are those that will take risk in a well thought out and strategized manner. As long as you stay true to your brand values and understand your clients and the market you are in, you should be closer to taking a risk that propels you forward.