Sometimes, you just have to rock the boat. TIME Magazine gets that. From naming Hitler Man of the Year in 1938 to putting this incredibly provocative photo of a mother breastfeeding her three year old on the cover of the magazine, TIME knows that every so often to stay relevant, you have to make people mad, challenge preconceived notions and change everything. Are you doing the same?
Not that you should be sharing photos like this cover or mentioning Hitler, but you need to be constantly pushing your audience to think of you in new ways and even being a little outrageous. Here at Roundpeg, we recently released an entire email newsletter that was themed around sex. Not gender, sex. It featured links to articles on burlesque, showing a little leg in your web design and how to give your readers some visual stimulation.
Overall the open rate was higher then our typical newsletter. Several people even took the time to tell us they opened it just because of the subject line but were pleasantly surprised at the substance they found inside. A few others didn’t like it, and our unsubscription rate jumped slightly. Lorraine and I looked at each other, shrugged and shared a high five. We did what we’d set out to do: we stirred things up, did something different and got people who maybe had been letting that newsletter languish in their inbox a reason to open it up and see what we were up to (or possibly what was wrong with us). We pissed some people off, but we got what we wanted.
Don’t mistake me: I’m not of the “all publicity is good publicity” school of thought. What TIME did (and what we did) was to take a calculated risk. If you understand what you’re going to say is provocative, you’re ready when backlash comes.
How are you provoking your readers, clients, even your staff or yourself? How are you pushing the boundaries of how things are done and what’s acceptable? Maybe it has nothing to do with the things mentioned here. Maybe it’s about killing some golden calves and going against the standard wisdom of your industry. Maybe it’s telling people what they don’t want to hear.
For instance, one local personal trainer is very blunt in his fitness advice: You’re fat because you’re lazy. Stop being lazy, stop being fat. It’s entirely counter to the current PC mantra surrounding obesity and fitness in the United States. His methods and words are harsh, and they alienate a lot of people. But it also attracts people who appreciate the brutal honesty. He makes a calculated risk and reaps the rewards.
Go ahead. Lash out a little with your marketing strategy. Piss people off–smartly–and see what happens. Just be ready.