Lately, business owners are pondering what risk means to those who take responsibility for a business of any size. We are pleased to present the following book excerpt from The Marketing Deck by Diane A. Curran (yours truly) inside the Chapter “Stage Whispers.”

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Are You All In?

It’s time to talk about the ”R” word: Risk.

Business and marketing can be as volatile as the board game Risk. Cutthroat: Capture every territory you can! Eliminate everyone else! Scorched earth! Arbitrary: Roll those dice! Risky: filled with changes of fortune that sneak right up on us.

Acting coach David LeGrant was very clear to his students: you can’t win an Oscar if your biggest concern is looking good on screen; you must fill your character with life, risk letting your real emotions show in splotches, unglamorous tears, puffy eyes, and runny noses. Equally so, marketing that’s just about looking good risks nothing; a hollow message sent is a hollow message received.

Of course being “all in” with scorched earth doesn’t really work in marketing. Especially in this age of instant news cycles and online communities of every stripe. Marketplace and professional blowback can be swift and severe, the stuff of marketing and PR nightmares. Witness a pharmaceutical marketer’s recent decision to increase pricing by 5000% after purchasing control of one medication for a captive audience, despite a disclaimer that it would be free to those who could not afford it.  Their move was all over the news cycle. Key public and industry audiences were utterly outraged that patients would be expected to shoulder the business owner’s burden of funding research and manufacturing risks.

Dramatics and headlines aside, some of the scariest risks a marketer faces happen at the earliest stages of idea generation and planning:

• Are you willing to risk seeking new ideas or even audience input that will challenge your own thinking?

 • Are you willing to relinquish enough control to build a team bigger than yourself?

 • Are you willing to weather marketplace ups and downs in service to a bigger purpose, one that matters beyond you?

•  Are you willing to practice unconditional respect to earn your clientele’s trust?

 • Are you willing to bring satisfaction (and fun!) to the extra work you never expected, so your marketing can succeed?

If these seem like daunting questions, relax. The time to wrestle with them is well before you are on a public stage. Off stage, you can look deeply into your love for the game you are getting ready to play in the real world. We love athletes, actors, entrepreneurs and leaders whose vision or mission is deep-seated, principled, and inspiring for us to emulate or enjoy. But their readiness didn’t happen overnight. They practiced and rehearsed, and keep doing so, over and over.

Marketing doesn’t plop itself down, fully formed for us to watch like a spectator. It takes a spirit of experimentation, a willingness to try on new ideas, pursuing those that inspire, discarding those that don’t. A simple shuffle* reorders The Marketing Deck’s many ideas, offering swift access to explore new options. Deal?

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Among the biggest resistances business owners have is to setting aside time for marketing. That creates unworkable risk, as putting marketing on the back burner is a recipe for stagnation and shrinking revenues. The Marketing Deck solves this inertia with the simplicity of “pick-a-card-any-card,” to get your brain out of pause and into creative thought. This naturally spurs the desire for experimentation, something business owners tend to do and tend to like being in action for.  Go for it!

To read more, visit Amazon for the e-book version, or get the entire biz book trilogy in print: Amazon Author Page

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