Safe is Risky

Readers of this blog will know that I revere the American marketing guru Seth Godin (I’m not alone!). In Purple Cow he reminds us that we’re now in an age of more choice and less time, and that in the face of a deluge of marketing ‘interruptions’ most of the time we automatically ignore stuff.

The key, he says, is to be remarkable – and that means worthy of being talked about. Good (even very good) isn’t enough anymore. It’s a bit dull and doesn’t get noticed. But most people gravitate to the ‘mid-range’ as it’s where most people are – so they can’t be wrong. The problem is, unless you’ve got millions to spend on advertising, you’re just invisible.

That’s why safe is risky, and the place to be is at the margins.

Recently appointed as David Cameron’s Director of Communications, Craig Oliver took the risky option early in his career, when he applied for a graduate trainee’s position at ITN. Aware of the intense competition for places, he surprised the interview panel by performing a mock news bulletin (as newsreader) with HIM as the lead story!

The interviewers wondered if they ought to hire someone who hadn’t ‘stuck to the rules’ but in the end took him on because of his daring and creative approach.

Risky? Well, not according to Seth. Better to be different than invisible.

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