A few years ago there was news story I shared in the office. It was about a woman who was a member of the Bondi Iceberg Swimming club. For reference I have tried to find this article again on Google but can’t seem to find it, so I’m going by my memory.

For years, every morning the woman would swim in that outdoor rock pool on the beach. I’ve seen this particular rock pool during a trip to Australia and it’s quite amazing. The pool is full of seawater and, during high tides the ocean can breach over the walls and swell right into the pool. People have swam with bluefish and octopus in the pool before now. This one particular morning she heads down to the pool, it’s early and she’s the first one there. The waters are murky from a rough tide during the night and she begins to do her laps of the pool. She completes her swim, gets out, dries herself off and heads back up the steep steps to the street.

A lucky escape?

She takes a moment to look back at the pool and through the murky water she see’s an astounding sight. The unmistakable dark shape of a shark idling it’s way from one end of the pool to the other. Immediately she was shaken and a rush of fear sweeps through her. How could she have swam in that pool and not have noticed? Or worse… Well you know what that is! The account makes the news, and the news finds it’s way to me. It turns out the shark was washed over the wall and into the pool with a very high tide and didn’t manage to get back out. The story resonated with me because I love the outdoors, Oz and especially sharks – or more so, I love to fear them.

Another resonating point, the fact being that the woman had no fear of getting into the pool in the first place that morning. There was no way that a shark would be in that pool, even though it is plausible that it ‘could’ happen; given that seawater can enter a pool of this type. Would she have gotten into the pool if she knew the shark was there? Either way it’s irrelevant because she did get into the pool, she did swim and lived to tell a story that went viral. It made me think about our line of work as a marketing agency, and comparing this attitude of some businesses towards their own marketing activities. Marketing can sometimes feel like you’re swimming with sharks. You dip a toe into the water and you don’t know if you’ll get bitten. Campaigns and idea’s that may seem crazy or daring are often put aside because of fear over how they will be received.

Dropping fear and being brave in marketing is hard but the rewards can produce wonderful brand stories that your audience will resonate with and share. If a customer likes a marketing campaign or story, they will shape it into something they believe they want, not necessarily what they need.

At the beginning of this post, I mentioned that I read about a woman who took a swim with a shark. Despite all of Google’s archiving resources, I couldn’t find one single account of this actually happening. Although my mind convinced me I had read it. I have even told this story to my wife and friends. Could it be that, like a consumer, I have moulded and shaped this story in my mind, using elements of subjects I am passionate about?

Next time you’re thinking of planning a new marketing push, don’t rule out jumping in with the sharks, it might be the best thing you ever do.

Image Credit: Roger Kastell/Jaws 1975

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