OK, I admit it - I'm a karaoke junkie. My friends and I go every week. I have a standard set of songs I sing - because I've practiced them so often I could sing them in my sleep. I don't have to worry about going out on a limb - I'll sound good as long as I stick to what I know. Last night after singing "Moondance" for about the 98th time the DJ kept me up on stage. "A gentleman has requested Andrea sing 'Fever' so we're gonna keep her up here for one more song."
What!? I thought, "I haven't practiced this song. What if I fail? What if I sound terrible in front of this room full of people? No way - I just can't do this."
It took some persuading, but I eventually agreed to sing the song. I stood on stage praying that I wouldn't mess up.
The comfortable feeling I had during the last song apparently decided to go outside and have a cigarette. I held the microphone in my slightly shaking hand when the seductive beat began. I swayed my hips at each pluck of the bass and started to find my grove.
Then a miracle happened (ok, maybe not a miracle - but something pretty cool). I started singing and I was good - damn good. So good I got a standing ovation.
Strutting back to my seat I reflected on what had just happened. Because I had something that worked, there was little incentive for me to go outside of my comfort zone. But because I didn't take the risk, I missed out on an even better opportunity.
Marketing strategies can fall into the same routine. Year after year companies stick with "what works" because they fear the unknown.
Trying something new is risky. There's a chance you'll fail - but there's also the chance that you'll have overwhelming success. And if you're missing out on a standing ovation - doesn't that make staying comfortable the really risky choice?