In a world filled with well-crafted, accessible content, yours must stand out above the noise. But how? Experiment with unusual formats or a new medium. Take risks with the subjects you cover. When done well, your willingness to step outside your comfort zone can pay off.
That said, this can be risky. So, how should you approach pushing boundaries and taking risks with your content? Let’s look at some of the important considerations.
Clarify Your Motives
Simply taking risks isn’t always positive. In many ways, it’s reckless and you might be left with unfavorable consequences. From your audience’s perspective, pushing boundaries with no real meaning can come off as superficial.
Establish exactly what your motives are for pushing boundaries. When you clarify your motives, you’ll have a better sense of the impact you’re trying to achieve. A few years ago, Spotify invested significant capital in crossing the digital content boundaries. They augmented their online experience with a physical takeover of a New York subway. The company plastered the platforms with David Bowie-related visual material. They promoted the takeover on their Instagram and streaming platforms. This huge investment presented a significant financial risk. However, the motive was to create a truly immersive, enriching experience people would talk about — and it paid off.
Formalize your motives. Similar to your marketing plan, hash these out and make them visible. When you stray outside the bounds of your usual approach, it’s easy to get lost as you explore. Keep a careful stock of your motives and frequently assess whether the direction of your experiments still serves your purpose. This is also a good tool for performing assessments after you create and post your content.
Understand the Risks
When you push boundaries, there are opportunities for you to reach a new audience. You may even spur innovations and influence how certain content is created in the future. However, accept that doing something new could fail, and the results can cause various forms of damage. As such, take time to fully understand, assess, and prepare for the risks.
Risk management is likely already incorporated into your business. However, a new form of marketing content may not have the same forms of physical, human, or location risks you would usually prepare for as part of your general business plan. That said, take a similar, serious assessment approach to your marketing as you would any other area. This begins with breaking down the bigger picture and asking yourself questions about what could go wrong, and what safeguards are already in place. You can then gain further insights into the risk by seeking outside expert opinions, consumer feedback, even vetting any creators you’re partnering with.
Once you performed your research and have an overview of the risks, you can then work your way down the list to consider their impact and mitigate accordingly. If your content is in an unexplored format, this might include backups in your usual style so you don’t lose your usual audience. Think about the platforms that are most or least appropriate.
For example, TikTok trends might favor musical or dance-based promotions. That said, those same promotions may fall flat on less video-reliant platforms like Facebook or Twitter. The more you can understand your risks, the better able you are to manage and minimize them.
Read the Room
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when pushing content boundaries is failing to read the room. In recent years, there were several misguided attempts to use social causes in marketing. They failed. In 2017, Pepsi created a marketing campaign that revolved around a video of a staged march similar in style to Black Lives Matter protests. The content saw Kendall Jenner crossing the protest lines to hand a Pepsi to a cop. The public reaction was significant, criticizing Pepsi for co-opting a serious cause and undermining the issues at hand. The company’s reputation plummeted, and over the following nine months, it struggled to regain its status among consumers.
Therefore, take time to fully understand the issues your content represents and the potential consequences for everyone. Take time to look at other businesses’ advertising errors to learn what mistakes to avoid. This is not just from the perspective of public opinion. Keep in mind your content might see your brand becoming the target of litigation. Even something as seemingly innocuous as suggesting one cat food tastes better than another has previously resulted in a lawsuit that expected proof to be submitted. So, take time to fully explore the impact of your content — how it affects your audience, the community, and even your competitors.
Pushing boundaries with your content might allow you to make something truly unique for your audience. However, take a serious approach to risk management and plan how you can minimize the cost of failure. Most importantly, be cognizant of how and why your boundary-pushing might have serious effects on others that could come back and bite you.
Author Bio: Noah Rue is a journalist and content writer, fascinated with the intersection between global health, personal wellness, and modern technology. When he isn’t searching out his next great writing opportunity, Noah likes to shut off his devices and head to the mountains to disconnect.