To Stand Out From the Crowd, Don’t Be Afraid to Create Controversy

One of the challenges most businesses face when marketing themselves is simply how to stand out in a crowded, busy marketplace.

Just about every business faces competition. Sometimes it’s right across the street or on the other side of town. Sometimes it’s over the internet. And even if you don’t have much direct competition, you’re still competing for the attention of your target audience – and winning attention is harder today than it’s ever been. Your target customers, like all of us, have endless opportunities for distraction right at their fingertips. Between smartphones, social media, and constant “breaking news” in the media, it’s hard for most people to focus.

That’s a problem for your business – because you need your target audience to pay attention to you. 

One way to do that is to create a bit of controversy. People are naturally attracted to controversy, and when someone is willing to go against the grain, they stand out from everyone else. 

But this can be a dangerous strategy if you get it wrong. You don’t want to alienate your customers. 

It starts with knowing your audience well. Who are they, and what do they value? How can you stand up for those values in a way that creates some controversy among the general public, but earns the appreciation of your audience?

For example: Chick-fil-A is famously closed on Sundays. They’re also actively engaged politically for causes that not everyone agrees with. But they know their audience tends to skew southern, evangelical, and conservative – so even as they are getting criticized in the national media, they’re creating a deeper bond with their core customers. 

It doesn’t have to be related to politics, either. Simply taking on a “villain” that your target audience dislikes will endear them to you. 

For example, nobody likes the IRS. Many lawyers and CPAs do an effective job of villainizing the IRS in their marketing, and in the process they attract clients who have a similar feeling about the agency. 

Creating controversy can be a great way to attract attention and stand-out from the crowd. When you do it right, your core customers will love you for it. Don’t be afraid to create controversy with your marketing.