When I saw the video for Elon Musk's SpaceX Heavy Falcon Launch sending a Tesla Roadster into space, I have to admit I thought it was a joke. The idea was so outrageous that it felt unbelievable. After a few minutes of scanning news stories online, I realized that this amazing event was actual real. The feeling I had was indescribable. I was in awe of this man who could create such a powerful event and it made me think about three lessons any business owner can learn from this out-of-this-world stunt.
1. Get free publicity.
Doing something outrageous catches attention, whether it is a viral sensation online or you get covered in the news media. Doing something out of the ordinary can get your company free publicity. Most business owners do not have the budget for a space launch, but there are many publicity stunts that do not cost that much and can give big returns:
- A blog post or article with catchy story that ties your product or service with a current event or celebrity
- A staged event in a public place (permits may be needed) to showcase your company or service that draws a crowd
- Doing something unique around a holiday that is aligned with your product or service.
Social media is a low-cost or free way to spread the word about your business with the use of Facebook Live, posting videos across the social networks and posting blog articles. If you do a live event, you can invite the local media to film and interview you. You don't have to have a big name or well-known product to get media exposure, just a great hook.
When I first started my business, I appeared on the local news of three different stations on Valentine's Day because I was promoting a service about finding the right relationship.I just simply emailed a press release on a Friday afternoon with a cool headline and they called me first thing on Monday because they loved it.
The networks were actually fighting over who got to get the first interview! Eventually, I was asked back to be a regular on one network's Saturday morning show and received free advertising for my business for almost two years!
2. Take risks.
There is a saying that "it is lonely going the extra mile because no one else is there." Some risks do not pay off and can burn a brand, but many times the risk can catapult you to a place that would take years on the safe route. Musk played full out with his launch. He had many failures and setbacks that were often televised, but that didn't stop him. All of those setbacks led to the big payoff.
Taking risks expose flaws that you could not see if you played it safe. Once exposed, you can then self-correct, adjust and reach your goals faster. If left in the dark, you don't know what is missing. Where can you stretch yourself and your business to make a big leap?
The most important aspect of taking risks is not to be attached to the results. Take the leap for the sake of boldness, not to calculate a specific outcome. As you let go of the boundaries of what is possible, you allow for the impossible to appear it unexpected ways.
3. Have fun.
Musk's car floating through the atmosphere playing David Bowie with a man in a spacesuit is classic. I believe it made everyone smile. Groucho Marx said, "If we aren't having fun, you are doing something wrong." This is such an important lesson.
I got into my own business because I wanted to express something that was locked away when I worked for others. It is tempting to fall back into the same corporate patterns of bureaucracy and become creatively-starved when you become a real, functioning business, rather than just a hobby out of your extra bedroom.
How can you reclaim the passion of the early days of your business? How can you bring more fun into your marketing and promotional efforts? Can you bring some levity to your team and work environment?
The world is getting too serious and, as business owners, we have the power of influence to change the energy around us through our team, customers and vendors by adding a little fun. Happiness is often one of the forgotten assets that any company can have, don't leave it out.