We live in a society where controversy sells. Know don’t misunderstand me, I just want you to think for a moment. Just think about Miley Cyrus and her recent ridiculous marketing antics. Our society loves juicy news, shocking revelations, and scandalous topics.
Most of the biggest TV programs that are on TV right now is based off of mocking established traditions. SCANDAL to name a few has start followings, viewing sessions, and have trended consistently on social media sites for a while now. Some of the biggest products and TV programs in the world are predicated on mocking established traditions and social values. For example, you might remember the old MTV reality show, "Jersey Shore," created a firestorm of attention, because so many people were intrigued by the controversy they generated. Some controversies even fuel religious and political groups to publicly make an outcry about the situations and what to do to ban them from programming and organizations.
I say all of this to ask a question. And that is; If controversy works so well, does it deserve a place in YOUR marketing plan with your business or brand? No, because there's a better option. Controversy just for the sake of shock value usually produces a detrimental side effect. You may get a lot of attention in the short run, but in the long run you may end up sacrificing your reputation. Remember, marketing is not a sprint, but a marathon and you don’t want to lose the integrity of your brand with the public because it’s very hard to get it back. Instead here is a better alternative to use before putting your name or brand on the line: Be contrarian, rather than controversial. There's a big difference between the two.
You see, controversy is usually based on a self-centered motive to gain attention to yourself. In contrast, a contrarian approach usually centers on helping other people by challenging and STRETCHING the way they think. You attempt to benefit others by stretching them beyond the status quo and offering an unexpected set of ideas. You know you're being contrarian in an effective manner when people respond, "Hmm, I've never heard that before...I haven't thought about it like that...I'll have to give what you said some more thought, creating conversation and engaging your clients, customers, and fans with a different way of thinking and opening them to seeing something in a different like.
Now I know you may think, Ron! These marketing tactics are the same! They may appear the same in the way they stir and rouse people’s emotions. But the difference is between helping yourself and helping others. Controversy leaves a negative taste in everyone’s mouth because it’s almost like your begging for attention, like standing in the middle of rush hour traffic in your birthday suit with a sign saying LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! In contrast, contrarianism tends to leave a positive feeling with everyone, because people love people who consider their best interests to heart.
Leave controversy to the businesses and brands that are here today and gone tomorrow. Take a long term view by being a contrarian and create a long standing relationships with your audience that values and respects you today and years from now.
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