More Dangerous Ideas, Please

I spend a lot of time talking about marketing to people who want to reach a new audience or grow an existing audience. But they are determined to defend the status quo instead of doing a few things that will make all the difference: namely, abandoning the status quo for something unique and interesting because it’s worth noticing.

So here are some things that everyone who wants to reach more people should do as soon as possible.

  1. Create interest and demand for yourself and what you do by paying attention to the people out on the fringe instead of the people in the middle who are looking for average, predictable products and services. Apple, Starbucks, Neiman Marcus, The Four Seasons, and Motel 6 all benefit from being on the fringe. So did Frank Lloyd Wright, The Beatles and more recently, Tesla.
  2. Quit playing it so safe. In a crowded, highly competitive, commoditized environment, fitting in is failure. Not standing out, by standing for something (see #1) is as good as being invisible. What is the story behind your product? What is the deeper truth? What are people going to say about it that they won’t also hear about a lookalike product?
  3. When you have put all kinds of effort and resources into your project and it isn’t going to work, end it immediately and start something new and better. The reason is that if it’s not remarkable or interesting or captivating enough, nobody is going to talk about it. Nobody talks about boring stuff; they buy it for as little as possible when they need it. When was the last time you had a passionate conversation about dish soap?
  4. Narrowcast, which is similar to number one. Don’t create anything that will be appealing to the masses. Go after people who are passionate. People who are passionate care and share news about you with other like-minded people. Get as specific as possible.
  5. What is going on in the lives of the people you most want to help? What are their specific and personal troubles they need solutions for that nobody else is thinking about or willing to help them with? Again, if you don’t have to empathize, then you are not thinking specifically enough. The question isn’t How do I attract them to my business? The question is What do they think about and want to talk about?

Doing what you think you are supposed to do, which is essentially imitating everyone else, isn’t going to get the job done for you.

Instead, do what nobody is willing to do.

Try differently.


Comments (3)

Great hearing your talk at our United Planners Conference last week, Dennis! You were very entertaining and inspiring. I came away feeling we’re bringing a good experience to our customers but want to be even more vigilant.

Thank you and have a terrific summer!


Stage an experience that is memorable, meaningful and personal. Make sure your goods and services are just props, and that your experience is separate from them. Glad you were there Brian. DMW

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