Serving as the challenger in your organization is a challenge. (No pun intended.) It is easy to come up with basic content, a simple television ad, or even a contest that achieves good results. But good isn’t what moves the needle for the long-term. What inevitably moves the needle for brands are the rough-around-the-edges ideas, those that rely on a little elbow grease and passion.
Challengers have that mentality built into their DNA. They believe they can do crazy ideas with strong execution. It is a mindset. But it is also a culture. Not everyone has the luxury of working for an organization with a challenger-like culture. In those cases, sometimes you have to be the lone ranger in the fight to end status quo marketing strategies.
Don’t Be a “Yes” Person
One sure way to not be a challenger is to always say “yes.” I laughed when I saw this tweet from Emma recently:
Nothing stifles creativity and innovation faster than a group of marketers who don’t challenge each other and just go along with the way it has always been done.
It is often a lonely island to be the one voice in the room who doesn’t rubber-stamp every idea, but if you truly aim to be a challenge marketer; one who don’t just create generic content, but pushes the boundaries of expectations to drive unique results, then you have to have the willingness and ability to say “no.”
Challenge the Status Quo
There is a phrase in legacy organizations that slowly destroys the motivation to bring new ideas to the table. Four little, but powerful words: “We tried that already.”
If you hear that in your organization, you have two choices. You can agree with the statement and move on. Or, you can take the opportunity to ask questions about their previous experience with the concept. There are a lot of reasons why it may not have worked in the past. Technology. Platforms. Execution. Budget. Audience. Product. The reasons are endless and worth poking holes in.
Over the course of six weeks, Amazon built, and launched, what is now known as Amazon Prime. This was made possible by a lot of work across the entire eCommerce giant, but it required the entire company to challenge previous processes. For Amazon, this approach began at the top with Jeff Bezos’ vision to always be a Day 1 company. If you’re in a Day 2 organization, be a Day 1 employee.
Bring Off The Wall Ideas
If the key to being a challenger organization is agility and belief in change then the key as an individual is to always bring unique, “off the wall” ideas. And not just bring them, but fight for them.
Gary Vaynerchuk is famous for arguing that he is always trying to put himself out of business. To understand that, you need to understand his approach: he is always looking for the underpriced attention in a busy world. As a marketer, always be thinking about how you could modify and change what you’re doing to stay one step ahead of the competition.
These three personal approaches to your craft in an entrenched organization will be difficult, but if you can serve as the challenger inside your organization, you will slowly build a team of like-thinkers who know and understand that to win in today’s competitive marketing ecosystem, one must always think and act like a challenger.