Controversy defined as a disagreement, typically when prolonged, public, and heated; could be your best tool for gaining attention. Though there are a few ground rules I believe you must follow, capitalizing on this extravagant tool so scarcely used by businesses and people could pay large dividends.
It’s no secret that for a client to spend money with you they must first know of you in one way or another. This plays back to the “TOMA” idea so widely used in the marketing industry. TOME – or – Top Of Mind Awareness is what companies and brands attempt to build in their market space. Think of a tennis shoe brand – who ever you just thought of – the very first one – has TOMA in your mind in that market. That’s great that a client knows about you – it’s the building blocks of branding but I think we need to revise this old adage.
Top Of Mind Attention!
Awareness means you know of me. Attention means now you are looking at me. I’ll take the latter! Gaining attention in your space should be your number one priority. How do you do this? Sure, websites, direct mail, email campaigns and all the other marketing tools can make that happen but they are often short lived. I believe in marketing it’s about how much you can do, how often you can do it and how wide you can reach. Money plays a huge role in this as it pertains to the above mentioned tactics but what if there was something that could really gain attention? Make people talk about you all over social media, tell their friends about your brand at the dinner party this weekend, or even go as far as call you because of it.
Enter stage left – Controversy.
People have been noticed many more times for controversial reasons than for going with the flow. The dynamic duo that comes to my mind (Ha! TOMA) is Kanye West & Kim Kardashian. These two – love them or hate them – have taken mediocre successes and stayed in the light of the media by staying controversial. Now before you jump my case – please don’t think I’m trying to make you follow in the “break the internet” steps of Kim K! You see they failed to follow the ground rules I mentioned earlier in the post and here they are. There are three:
1) Manage your brand with integrity.
2) Never create controversy with out being able to capitalize on it.
3) Know your audience and don’t be afraid to appeal to them.
As a brand I don’t feel that Kanye & Kim manage their brand with the highest levels of integrity failing to follow rule #1. Although they exploit number 3 with the highest levels of execution – it’s a bumpy road because all three must be followed.
Take this example. One of my followers Phil mentioned on FB about a truck in front (drywall install company) that had this on the back, “You are following a WELL HUNG drywall man.” Controversial? You bet! Almost 30 comments on Phil’s post about it. BUT does it follow the 3 ground rules we laid out?
1) Does it manage the brand with integrity?
2) Are they able to capitalize on the controversy?
3) Are they appealing to their audience?
I would say iffy, doubt it and no. I don’t think a dry wall company is the best place for sexual innuendos. I doubt people flood their phone lines because they are so adequately equipped. Lastly – I doubt a stay at home mom would want that truck sitting in her drive way. So what could they have done?
How about “The state’s only LIFETIME GUARANTEED drywall installations” Not as controversial but it plays true to the 3 ground rules. Integrity, capitalization and appealing. They should focus on making that their attention getter.
But I don’t want to leave you hanging …. See what I did there … so let’s follow this “sexual innuendo slogan” idea a little further. Where would it work at?
When Steve Schiff’s “fine dining” restaurant start-up failed – instead of continuing down the same path he decided he would open an anything goes, pub style eatery. A place where patrons can expect to be insulted, made fun of and put in uncomfortable situations, all in the name of fun, of course. With reviews spanning from “Good times, good food” to “I’d rather go hungry” – This is a noteworthy business for “Attention Through Controversy” Dick’s Last Resort follows the three ground rules.
1) They manage the brand with integrity – no one is ever harassed beyond comfort.
2) They are able to capitalize on the controversy – successfully operating 12 stores.
3) And how much more appealing can you be – “Come here and eat so we can pick on you”
Given it’s not your after church eatery of choice but they know their audience and they aren’t afraid to be controversial to appeal to them! I’d urge you to find a way to do the same in your business!