Remember the last time you did something completely crazy? Okay, maybe not crazy, but outside your normal comfort zone? I had such an experience last week. I’m pretty unskilled when it comes to cooking, hence, I’m hesitant to try new things. I stick with what I know, which is very basic (think lots of dishes that can incorporate steamed veggies or scrambled eggs). Well, I decided to take a big step last week. I picked out a recipe, purchased all the ingredients, and spent a good hour prepping, chopping, dashing and following the recipe to create my masterpiece. While my eggplant lasagna was far from something Curtis Stone would praise, I was extremely proud. It tasted really good! This type of “extreme cooking” is still far outside my comfort zone, but I’m actually looking forward to trying a new recipe again – and hopefully I’ll improve my skills along the way.

This experience made me think about what our clients go through working with us. Really, every company working with an outside agency goes through many situations where they step outside their comfort zone – but it’s ultimately for the best. As good marketers, we force clients to get out of their comfort zone and challenge their traditional ways of doing things. We push them to try new ideas, whether it be on a single project, an entire campaign or a full tradeshow promotion. They might be comfortable just sticking to what’s been done in the past, and it’s certainly easier to just do so. But it’s our job to pull them outside of that comfort zone, to examine what’s been done in the past, how it has worked (if it has worked) and how we can improve upon what’s been done to get the absolute best results.

Of course, this doesn’t mean we throw out the old rulebook and completely eliminate “tried-and-proven” concepts – in fact, we incorporate plenty of old ideas simply because they work and they work well. But I firmly believe it’s important to mix in some new variables from time to time, and stay up-to-date on what’s new for the world of marketing. This is especially true in our society where technology is constantly changing – changing the way we learn about products, the way we communicate our messages and the way we interact with customers. Those who don’t embrace it, at least on a small scale, just might be left in the dust.

When was the last time you stepped outside your comfort zone, in business or otherwise? What was the end result?

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