We all have that voice in the back of our minds. You know, the one that tells you all the reasons why you can’t, shouldn’t, or won’t. Not only does this voice—faint as it may be—hold you back from doing things that could be rewarding and fulfilling, it also puts the spotlight on failure rather than success. Meanwhile, our brains seem to work differently (and in a good way).
All the Times You Were Stressed
Humans take themselves and their endeavors pretty seriously. Everything we do, especially when it comes to our careers and livelihoods, feels like it carries so much weight, doesn’t it? We are stressed out.
But here’s the silver lining in being a perpetually distraught species: We just move on to the next thing to stress over, whether it’s a big project at work or a small task like getting to work on time. Recount all the times you’ve ever been stressed. You can’t. Outside of major life events and the very recent past, we don’t store most of the emotional anguish we put ourselves through. It goes away.
Things We Remember (And Things We Don’t)
School is a perfect example of stress that doesn’t stick. When you think back to the countless tests you studied for, the papers you wrote, the chapters you crammed…do you remember every single time you got a disappointing grade? Are you still down on yourself for missing a deadline on an assignment years ago? Probably not. Now, how about when you nailed that speech in front of the whole class? Your memory might be warming up.
Baseball is another great example for me personally. I don’t really recall or relive any of the strikeouts…but I remember every home run, watching the ball clear the fence, the bliss of rounding the bases, and finally touching home plate, in surprisingly vivid detail. That’s because we’re programmed to celebrate our successes and live through our failures. It’s how we survive, really.
What This Means for Your Marketing
Marketing is no different than anything else when it comes to our perception (or fear) of failure. You remember the home runs and forget the strikeouts. With this in mind, it’s okay to take some risk in the way you communicate with your audience. You of course don’t want to do anything errant or flippant, but calculated risk can be a good thing. Here are a few examples:
Swing for the Fences
The common thread in the videos above is that each brand stepped outside of its comfort zone—and the risk came with a reward. The San Diego Symphony video, for example, was viewed 10 times more than any video in the organization’s history. It received thousands of likes and shares, along with hundreds of comments praising the entertainment value of what would otherwise be just another ad.
Listen, you’re always going to have that voice telling you to stress out, freak out, bail out, etc. You can certainly do some solid marketing when letting that voice prevail and playing it safe, but true breakthroughs—the ones that are really memorable—come when you push big ideas past the fear of failure and into existence for your audience to enjoy.