Unintended consequences.

While we were working on copy for an online ad, I asked my client how they wanted to be positioned.  They wanted to emphasize low(est) online prices in the ad, and I suggested we emphasize their depth of knowledge. Each approach has potential unintended consequences. The former leaves them vulnerable to other price cutting suppliers and might also dissuade service-oriented buyers from choosing them. The latter might push more orders to the phone (using more staff time) instead of the online store. In the end, we decided to test both options!

I often play Devil’s Advocate for my clients. It’s creative and I like thinking of the possible unintended consequences of their options. How can things go even better than anticipated?  or even worse than anticipated?  While you might think that thinking about what might go wrong would stop progress, I often find that it is freeing for me and my clients. “Oh, that worst case scenario is really not that big of a deal.  Let’s do it!”  Or framing things as a test (as I did with the ad copy question) also allows us to not get too invested in any direction and allows us to collect data and make an evidence-based decision later.

Have you been stuck on a decision? Have you considered possible outcomes, including unintended consequences? Or have you learned from an unintended consequence in the past? I’d love to hear from you!