Saturday 20 February 2010

Dangerous Marketing (you should do)

I remember as a child someone once telling me that you could flatten a coin under a train wheel. Being the ever curious sort, me and my friend tried it out - running down the platform to place the coins on the rail, watching as the train passed over, grabbing our newly squashed coins with glee and then running back up to get on the train.

In hindsight it probably wasn't the wisest thing to do - we could have missed the train trying to retrieve them!

However kids of today are increasingly insulated - being ferried from place to place, never just exploring and finding out how the world works, and a new book has just been released that is looking to challenge this. Entitled Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do), it apparently covers my coin flattening experience as well as other things like licking a 9V battery or throwing a stone.

I'm not planning to discuss the rights or wrongs of this, however what is interesting is the reaction to it. Many "commentators" have derided the book asking questions such as "Have they never raised children?" Yet after self-publishing the book due to initial rejections from publishers they sold 5,000 copies in the first month.

What I like about this book - and I have a copy on order - is precisely the fact that it isn't "safe" - the book itself would seem to be about taking calculated risks.

It's too easy to try and please all of the people all of the time, however most of the time this creates safe, predictable, less engaging solutions. Sometimes we need to do things which are controversial, which push the boundaries and which may ultimately offend the few but will then really engage the many.

Seth Godin made an interesting point in one of his latest blogs when he talked about a small number of customers being ungrateful, abusing your service and complaining saying "Firing the customers you can't possibly please gives you the bandwidth and resources to coddle the ones that truly deserve your attention and repay you with referrals, applause and loyalty."

Ultimately it is probably easier to not recruit certain customers than fire them later - either way sometimes taking some calculated risks rather than a safe strategy of pleasing all could allow you to focus attention - and resources - on those most likely to reciprocate.