It’s Safer To Be Risky

Have you noticed a change in the way products are being sold in last 15 years? Since the birth of print media and television, the formula for success was:

  1. Create a decent product that fulfilled a need
  2. Buy ads and market it heavily (you’re in everyone’s face)
  3. Make a Profit

This was highly effective. WAS highly effective. Why was? A few reasons…

Up to the late 90’s, the number of needs that needed to be fulfilled in the market was dwindling leaving only room for the market to produce products that fulfill wants. Let me prove my point. If I NEEDED something I can find it. If I needed an easy way to clean my clothes in the comfort of my home, I can walk into Sears or any department store and choose from over a dozen brands. If I needed to eat something quickly because I have a plane to catch, I have a plethora of fast-food choices. If I have the money, all my needs can be met.

Now that all our needs are met in the marketplace, we are only left with wants. And wants are very hard to sell for several reasons:

– Getting their attention for a want is different. Most people still use how they got attention for a need in their marketing.

– Once you have their attention, you need to convince them that your product will indeed fulfill their want.

-Then you have to be able to offer it at a price they are willing to pay while making a decent profit.

It’s also crowded and noisy. With needs AND wants, it’s so crowded and noisy that the consumer just tunes everyone out. The conventional print and television mediums are becoming more and more obsolete. With the internet, we choose what to read and watch. Heck, we all hit that  ‘Skip ad’ button as soon as the 5 seconds are up on YouTube. We couldn’t care less about a new product or service. We’re sorted for the most part. Nothing is really worthy of our time. We really don’t even give it a chance. Unless…

…Unless the product owner takes a risk. Takes the risk to actually try to be different. Different in their actual product and, just as importantly, how they share their product with their audience.  You see, being risky is now safer. Being safe and by the book just gets lost in the noise. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain when taking a risk.

So how do you do this? We are not saying that in order to succeed you must be outrageously outlandish for the sake of being different and deliver no value in the process. We are saying take a risk and be remarkably different with your approach so you can cut through the noise, get people’s attention and give them a reason to choose you over the several other choices they have to fulfill their needs and wants.

To drive this home, let’s take a look at some examples of businesses that took a risk in their product and how they shared it. You may have seen some of these before. If you have, please watch them again with this new perspective.

Dollar Shave Club: These guys not only created a video that gets your attention literally the moment you see the title of the ad, they’ve had me intrigued before the 8th second (time it yourself) because they took a product we all use and offered it in a different way. Instead of trying to compete with ‘the noise’ of the big brands, decided to change the way we buy blades with a monthly membership model.

They then share their different and risky product in a way that is unconventional. It speaks directly to the audience powerfully. No one is NOT going to continue to watch this after the 15-second mark (again, time it yourself).


Hello Flo: Hello Flo took a major risk and set itself apart from their competition with this ad. Instead of tip-toeing around the topic of menstruation in their marketing and never saying the p-word or using the ubiquitous “blue liquid”, they got a little sassy 12-year-old girl to change the female hygiene market forever.

The following words come out of the young Camp Gyno’s mouth.

  • RED
  • GYNO

Hello Flo isn’t just for 12-year-old girls. What’s brilliant about this ad is that Hello Flo knows that everyone in their audience can remember their first period and can relate to this outspoken little girl’s experience.

They also package their product with candy. Come on! Who doesn’t like candy?


Chrysler: You don’t need to be funny to take a risk and offer your product in a away that cuts through the noise.  They are in one of the most competitive markets on the planet. So they know that they need to stand out.

In this ad, instead of focusing on the features and the value of their product, Chrysler focuses on the values of their audience. They know that their audience values hard work, believing in yourself and making it one day based on your merits and wits. They know if they want to cut through the noise they will have to connect with their audience on a deeper level than cruise control.

You don’t even know what the ad is about until second 29. You don’t really mind because the story that’s being told is so engaging. You are happy to stick around to hear more. When the video is over, you actually wish it wasn’t. You’re left with a voice in your head saying, “I like what Chrysler is all about.” Brilliant!

They took a risk. They didn’t try to up their competition with an ad that had an even more sexier woman giving the driver even more prestige and significance. They didn’t drive the car in an even drier desert with a louder rock track than the competition.  They took a risk.


Old Spice: This is an oldie but a goodie. This ad was one of the first ones to appear on the internet that took a huge risk. They decided that even though their product is for men, they are going to  do something their competitors are not…

Market their product to women. No, not so that women start to use men’s body wash but to have them buy the product for their man. They realized that mostly women are the ones that do the shopping for the household and that a good number of men are indifferent about their grooming products or at the very least are open to trying something new. Yes, there are men that shop for the family but all the male grooming product brands are making ads for men exclusively. So by creating an ad geared towards women as the consumer of their product, Old Spice are way ahead of their competition.

Not only is the ad focused on making your man smell great (makes perfect sense, women are the ones doing the smelling, not the man) but it’s funny and over the top. At the end of the video you can’t help but think that Old Spice is cool and I want to try them out.


So the next time you are thinking about your business, your products, your services and how you are going to share it with your audience, think about taking a risk. Stop thinking about what everyone is doing how you can do it too. Think about how you can do something different and cut through the noise productively. How can you offer a product that is not like the competition and/or communicate your product to the audience is an authentic, original way.