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Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

“Ch-Ch-Changes...Turn and Face the Strange!” This month, we’re focusing on the ever-changing, pandemic-languished world we live in and the changes we have been forced to navigate through to save our sanity. How can change affect your marketing?

 If that David Bowie tune is now stuck in your’re welcome.

Maybe you can relate: my family has taken the pandemic seriously by abiding by all mandates and willingly slowing down our day-to-day lives. My son, attending virtual school since last March, has only seen his friends a handful of times. My daughter, who only just began tolerating a mask for short periods, has never been inside a store since she learned to walk in early 2020. 

Our groceries get delivered, we only order food as take-out, we’ve declined invitations to holiday gatherings, and limited our entertainment outside of our home. For fun, we took to getting drive-thru ice cream followed by hiking and exploring our local parks.

While all of this wasn't bad the first time around, now that it’s 2021, I am just sick of it. Going to the park has become just another chore of the mundane to satisfy our burning need to leave the house, entertain the kids, and check “getting outside” off our list. 

With most Americans able to be vaccinated and new mandates on the horizon, people are either cautiously optimistic or feel burned out from living life on repeat with little to look forward to week to week.  

 How does one disrupt the feeling of monotony day in and day out to stay refreshed and relevant? And, at what point or cost?

2021 Forced Us Out of Our Comfort Zones

 I’ve seen companies become too comfortable with the same old long before the pandemic hit. Many stay safe with their marketing and rarely venture outside of what they know and like. It can be hard to convince them of what opportunities lie on the horizon if they just take one step forward—much like we are hesitant to live our lives again. 

 It’s important to remember that marketing appeals to emotion. 2020 taught us that stagnant emotions are a result of stagnant experiences. To improve your marketing, ask yourself these two questions:

What type of experience or appeal does your brand have with your audience? 

How can you help improve it after the lull of the pandemic?

People and Brands Need Variety

Things we do and experiences we share hold value to us because of what they are in relation to other things in our life. Holidays are special to us because they are a day in which we do something different than the rest. If every day was a “holiday”, it wouldn’t feel so special. And likewise, when a holiday feels like just another ordinary day (like it did for many last year), they don’t mean the same to us after so long.  

The same goes for your brand and your marketing.  

If you haven’t tried doing something new, be it a new channel, look, or strategy, then don’t expect to pique anyone’s interest in your brand or garner new attention. Here are a few ways you can get out of your marketing comfort zone. 

  •  Is your logo old?  Have it updated! You can still maintain brand integrity while bringing about refreshing changes.  
  • Are your ads not performing well?  Try new imagery or some witty copy instead of being so informative. Do an A/B test and evaluate your new ideas and gather results to make more informed decisions.  
  • Are you normally strictly business and posed?  Be conversational and raw instead.  

Be bold! Try new things! Get that attention! Chances are, just by breaking up the monotony and the expected, you will get some sort of reaction. The last thing people want right now is more of the same old. 

Risks Can Be Worth It

There’s a level of thrill in risk-taking that is invigorating, satisfying, and necessary to the human psyche. I recently went to share a cocktail and toast to remember a life well-lived. It was the first time I’d done such a thing in over a year.  

While in a normal world, no problem, but this time the pandemic left me wary. I quickly realized that the benefit I got from taking this small, calculated risk was greater than the fear of things that were out of my control. I enjoyed the connection I’d been missing the last year and noticed a drastic change in my mood from the stagnant, blah feeling I’d been living for months— even if just for an hour. That hour ended up being worth more to me than the sum of the last few weeks. And everything was fine.

I’m not saying you should invest all of your assets into a new trend, or reallocate all your resources overnight; I’m saying that taking a risk here and there could be rewarding. Try small, calculated things first. If you’ve never done digital advertising, give it a go and see what happens. Put a little aside to try new things—you don’t need to do it forever or spend all you’ve got on it. But that little bit of adventure could do a whole lot if you do it right. Dip your toes in the water. You may eventually wade in further and find that the water isn’t all that bad to swim in.

Take The Professional’s Opinion

We all stay informed of the latest CDC guidance to make informed decisions for ourselves. The same goes for your marketing. If you’re not a marketing professional, look into hiring one—take the risk(I know a great place called ProFromGo if you’re stuck). If you have one, listen to what they have to say.  

Just as we all have been consulting the medical professionals for advice on COVID, you should listen to the company you’ve hired to help you with what they’re good at so you can go back to doing what you’re good at!  

 I meet a lot of clients who are very close to their efforts and really struggle to relinquish ownership over it. While they feel that they know what is best for their brand, it can end up hurting them in the end. Your marketing strategist may suggest things to you that you wouldn’t think to do yourself, and they may make you uncomfortable at times with deviations from what you consider normal— kind of like what masks were a year ago. I encourage you to listen to what they have to say and consider what the risks of it are. You may be surprised if/when their “crazy” ideas work out in your favor—or at least work to find a middle ground.

We’re Still In This Together

Here are revelations and lessons I learned in the last year and they relate to things I see in my marketing career.

 As we approach the halfway mark of “Year Two” in the pandemic, I am sure I'm not the only one who is tired of the way we have been living and is ready for a change.  

My daughter has started dance lessons (wearing a mask, of course) and my son is excited to learn from a neighbor how to skateboard. Plus, my husband and I finally decided we need a change of scenery and adventure (not more county parks) to improve our drab mood. Is this risky? Will it work? Maybe. We’re all doing the best we can in this experiment called life to make the best decisions that will yield the best results for us. Which is much like marketing.

As I conclude this lengthy blog post, I hope that at the very least, we may have had a shared experience in this tumultuous time in the world and you know that you are not alone in how you have felt —whether it be with your marketing tactics or general way of life.  

Danielle Matthews
About the Author
Danielle is VDG's Senior Art Director. Whenever she gets a minute to herself she enjoys binge-watching Netflix, reading, obnoxiously loud music, fishing, drinking obscene amounts of coffee, and probably being an all-around nerd.
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