Unexpected trends and established truths: How do you know when to pull the plug and take some marketing risks?

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What's wrong with this picture? We advocate taking calculated risks in business and marketing, but would be wrong to extrapolate this attitude when it comes to job site safety.

“Innovation” has become a business (and government-speak) mantra these days. We should take rational and yet seemingly daring risks, says Casper Berry. There are no shortage of stories about when businesses seemingly failed to take the right risks and the right time and died as a result. (Kodak may have developed the digital camera, but it still died as it could not escape the business clutch from consumable silver film.)

So it goes for marketing in the architectural, engineering and construction community, though I think the risk/embrace issue is less urgent but equally most technologically profound.

You will undoubtedly have trouble winning significant budget approvals to deep dive into artificial/augmented reality, though several vendors will help you justify travelling down the CRM (client relationship management) route that your competitors are already using. (Somehow this doesn’t look as much like as an innovation than a defensive strategy.)

How then can you take rational risks and mitigate them enough to be effective? Here are some ideas that may help you in the prioritization process. (Note if I could tell you specifically which tool/technology or solution to embrace I would be beyond a guru — instead, these are ideas to help you devise your own priorities.)

Connect with relevant associations (especially client groups) at a national level and attend relevant conferences.

Sure, by the time an “idea” reaches a national conference, it isn’t entirely brand new, but you can still gain insights about where things are heading — and capture the glimmer of new approaches and trends, especially from leaders in other non-competitive markets. You’ll learn the old stuff, of course, but you will also discover new things.

Discover an “in” to connect you with the new era by applying your skills and insights (perhaps voluntarily) to provide value to the community.

I’ve achieved this result by volunteering on the Google help forum most relevant to my business (the AdSense ad serving platform). This has given me some status as a “Top Contributor” or forum moderator — and invitations to relevant meet-ups and summits. (I’ll be heading to California again at the end of September.)

Travel with creativity.

You won’t get too far (in terms of insight) by heading to the same beach resort, or standardized cruise ship vacation, at least after you’ve done it once. However, there are opportunities for more intellectually daring adventures, where you can immerse yourself in different cultures even as you discover how incredibly interconnected the world has become these days.

Listen to, and embrace, youthful ideals without being some sort of copy-cat phony.

“Youthful ideals” may connect with age, but equally it is a matter of perspective. I enjoy some stability. However, allowing young people and individuals who dare to think a bit differently into your leadership circle may result in some powerful and innovative contributions.

These points said, sometimes you have to face the fact that new things can destroy the old and you will sometimes have to accept that the creative disruption that defines entrepreneurship may push yourselves over the edge.

The oft-told Kodak failure is a good example. Yes, Kodak might have embraced the digital camera revolution sooner than it did, but would it have really helped in the long-term, as how could even the most far-sighted innovator in the camera business have even contemplated that the mobile phone would be the most used camera in 2016. So, will building (and building marketing) be based on robotic artificial intelligence technologies –and if so, can we even begin to plan new approaches to capture the markets which don’t exist yet? I don’t know. But I’m excited to reach to the future and find out for myself.

Where and how do you think you can (or have) taken marketing risks? I welcome your ideas and stories. You can email buckshon@constructionmarketingideas.com or provide a comment here.

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