Crippled CEO Blog #148:
Especially in business, we think it’s smart to make the professional, solid, safe choice.
We want the website to look clean and professional. We want it to remind us of other successful businesses.
The same goes for our company shirts. Polo shirt, logo over the left breast pocket. The safe choice, just like everybody else.
We hire the almost robotic sounding lady to do the voice work for our phone system. We are happy with how professional it sounds.
Our business cards are safe, too. Name, logo, phone number. Nothing offensive that’s going to raise any eyebrows.
Our promotional videos, our email signature, product packaging, brochures… they all look like a successful corporation should. Nobody who looks at them has anything bad to say.
We don’t just choose safe because we are afraid of failure. We choose to play it safe with all of these things because no one is going to criticize or shame us for it.
No one is going to say a negative word about your professional sounding automated phone system.
When your customer places an order, and they get back the standard order confirmation email, you are guaranteed not to offend anyone.
And that’s what we want. Because criticism makes us feel bad. No one wants to be shamed.
The problem is that not only are you guaranteed to not offend anybody, but you’re also guaranteed to not delight them either. There is a 100% chance that your standard order confirmation email doesn’t make them smile or laugh. There is an absolute certainty that your safe, professional brochure has virtually no impact whatsoever.
It turns out that doing the safe thing is safe for your ego, but it’s dangerous for your business.
The safe thing is guaranteed not to really do anything.
We have Morgan Freeman (or maybe a Morgan Freeman impersonator… that’s up to you to decide) on our phone system when you call the office. When you place an order with us, the automated email you get describes how the heavens opened up and angels sang when we received your order, and we have created a shrine to you, our favorite customer, which we kneel at every morning. We have a video about an Amish family with 50 children choosing our product to keep their pool safe from drowning. I’ve made company shirts that make the wearer look like Superman, complete with cape and six pack abs, with the famous S replaced by our logo. The two celebrity spokespeople that we have partnered with have been a UFC Heavyweight Champion who beats people unconscious for a living and a new mom who got Internet famous by using extra raunchy pickup lines to try to shag her guy. My email signature starts with “May the Force be with you.” This blog is called Crippled CEO and I end each one with a joke about banging your mom (even though your mom is no joke at all — she’s a freak).
Not everybody likes all of those things. I’ve had my fair share of negative feedback and criticisms. And we do have a lot of things we do that are safe, boring, and professional. I’m trying to weed those out wherever I can.
Because while the safe choice has zero chance of winning, at least the risky or bold option MIGHT be successful, might be remembered, might earn a smile and some customer loyalty. It also might flop, but unlike safe and boring, at least it’s not guaranteed to do nothing.
When you look at it like that, you realize that taking these risks is actually the only safe choice, because doing it the “professional” way is never going to give you what you want.
Taking a chance on doing something bold and new is actually the wiser, more prudent choice, far less risky than the “safe” option — and it’s a whole lot more fun, too.
Try it out. Take a risk. Do something fun and weird. I think you might be surprised.
(Do you know who was taking a lot of chances last night? Your mom. And her sister. Your mom also gets a text from me every Sunday with a link to the latest blog post. Send a text to 561-726-1567 with the word CRIP as the message to get a link to the blog as soon as it’s up.
Did you know that I have a YouTube channel now? I do! I am putting up two videos every single week. Go search for Crippled CEO and you’ll find me. I would appreciate it if you subscribed.)