So, the NBA recently had their All-Star game. Fergie (of The Black-Eyed Peas fame) sang the National Anthem.

It was different. Fergie told TMZ, “I’ve always been honored and proud to perform the national anthem and last night I wanted to try something special for the NBA.”

A lot of people are upset about it. Fergie apologized, saying “I’m a risk taker artistically, but clearly this rendition didn’t strike the intended tone.”

How is this relevant to us?

We may not all be singing for the NBA, but we will face similar situations; it could be a new product, idea, or campaign. It could even be (as was the case for Fergie) a new approach to an existing product or idea.

Trying something new is risky.

If you experiment and it works out, you stand to win. On the other hand, if you try something new and it flops, it could end up being very costly! You could lose clients, money, or even find yourself out of business.

Making changes to your business, products, or services is a gamble. That brings us to our first piece of advice.

Be prepared to accept the consequences if it doesn’t work out.

Just as with gambling, you must be willing to accept losing before you place your bet.

In business, that means evaluating the potential impacts and only moving ahead if you can live with them.

For Fergie, possible consequences could include not being invited to perform at another NBA game. I would guess she can live with that. After all, this incident isn’t likely to affect her concert or album sales.

What about you? If you’re considering a change to your website, is it a high traffic area? If only 5% of your site’s visitors land on that part of your site, then at worst you might upset that 5%.

There are a time and a place to try new things

Talking about Fergie’s performance, late-night host Jimmy Kimmel said “Don’t take risks when you’re doing brain surgery, don’t take risks driving a school bus or singing the national anthem – just regular is fine.”

Given the dicey nature of taking risks trying new things, your best bet is to limit your risk-taking to specific situations.

Stand-up comedians routinely try out new jokes, but they do it in local comedy clubs in front of small audiences – not when they’re headlining a major comedy festival in front of thousands of people. Game companies (particularly for large online games) have test servers where they can have players try out new features before they’re added to the game.

You can apply the same logic. Before rolling out a change that affects your whole business or client base, why not try it out with a pilot group? Identify a group of test users, and ask them to give it a try before you go live for everybody.

If you don’t have employees or users who can test, look to your network. You have friends and family, that’s a good place to start.

If your change involves data (maybe you’re changing your customer database). Make a back-up first! Just do it, you’ll thank me later.

Check with your audience

This one is critical! Talk to your audience. It doesn’t matter if they’re users, clients, employees, or something else. First and foremost, they’re people, and people have opinions. Good communication can help you avoid some problems and it’ll help mitigate others.

When you’re planning to make a change, warn people.

When you’ve made the change, let them know.

After you’ve made the change, ask them about it. Do they like it? Is it causing them problems? Do they need help coming to grips with it? Their answers will help you make adjustments (if you need to) and plan for any future changes.

When all is said and done, though, if something needs to be improved upon – improve it!

We’ve made several changes here at JVZoo over the last few weeks, ones that have been thoroughly researched, recommended by our users, and beta tested extensively. The internet marketing industry is an ever-evolving and rapidly changing industry, and if you’re in it, you must be prepared to analyze, adapt, and overcome obstacles on a regular basis.

In case you missed any of the recent updates, they are:

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