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Soapbox Marketing: Make Money By Making Waves

By August 13, 2014July 1st, 2015Marketing Insights & Strategy
Soapbox Marketing: Make Money By Making Waves

When I was a kid my mom used to call me Contrary Mary.

It would go something like this:

Mom: wear the blue dress.

Me: but I want the pink one.

Mom: (sigh) fine but wear the white shoes.

Me: but I want the yellow ones.

Mom: just put your hat on.

Me: but mom, nobody else wears a hat!

At which point Contrary Mary would enter the conversation and I can’t say who won but I can say that my job was to be contrary and mom’s job was to tell me how contrary I was being.

As a five year old that can be a less-than-delightful personality trait. But as an (almost) forty-five year old it’s a pretty great marketing asset.


Glad you asked! Because that’s exactly where we’re going to start…

Stop Following And Start…

Fill in the blank.

Did you say “leading”?

Bzzt! Wrong answer.

Forget the clichés because today is the day you’re going to change your thinking.

Stop following, turn around and start going in the opposite direction.

What’s Under Your Skin Today?

I want you to think about that thing that goes against the grain, that pisses people off, that nobody wants to say and even fewer want to hear… but that you feel quite strongly about.

You might even hesitate to say it out loud.

Maybe you aren’t even all that confident in your opinion because there’s so darn much “conventional wisdom” in opposition that you figure you might be wrong after all.

Still, whatever it is, it nags you.

Something that bugs you about “business as usual”, maybe. Something people say or believe about your industry that isn’t quite true.

Maybe you heard about a competitor’s practice that burns your buns.

Or you’re just tired of the status quo but so entrenched in “common sense” that you go along to get along.

It’s simply not possible that you love and agree with everything about your business and industry. So today I want you to find that sticky spot that starts to itch whenever it comes up in conversation or you hear something about it.

And today is the day that you’re going to stop and ask one very simple question every time someone tells you anything at all: “Why?”

Are You Ready To Get Out Of The Bubble And Onto Your Soapbox?

There’s groupthink inherent in every industry. We’ve all spent a ton of time perfecting our craft, our expertise. We’ve poured our hearts – and wallets – into learning and becoming great at what we do. That kind of investment makes a person pretty committed.

There’s also the comfort of knowing. Of going on autopilot and doing what we do best. Stopping to think and question everything is exhausting and even unprofitable.

Still, there’s something nagging at you, I know it. If you stop to think about the things that so many people take for granted that it would almost seem foolish to buck the system, I bet you’ll find something that will make you shake your head and say, “No way.”

That’s the thing I want you to talk about today, because nothing will kill your marketing or your business or your credibility faster than coloring in the lines.

Today, instead of regurgitating the things you hear from every corner and every blog and every social status update, I want you to talk about the things that nobody is saying. The things that you know because you believe in what you do.

And you may be in the minority but that doesn’t make you wrong.

Even Galileo was convicted of heresy.

You’re Not In The Business Of Pleasing Colleagues. You’re In Business To Serve Your Customers.

Sometimes to go against the grain you have to make some people mad. People in your industry may not be happy to hear you contradict the party line but they aren’t your customers.

A friend of mine installs solar panels and he makes it his mission to uncover and expose common practices in his industry that are not in the best interests of customers. That may sound easy on the surface – after all, who wouldn’t want to work with someone honest and get the best possible service?

But consider that his competitors are doing their best to discredit him when they can. That his competitors can undercut him on price in a way that makes their product a lot more attractive to customers. That they can talk a pretty slick line, too.

And yet he perseveres in this mission, determined to do things the way he knows is right – not just accepted.

Sometimes to go against the grain you have to know more than what you learned in a textbook.

I interviewed one of my own customers recently who refuses to let us build him an eCommerce site because he understands that his customers require a personal shopping experience that you can’t get with a website. He uses the web as a showcase and then closes business one-on-one.

Sound crazy? Any internet marketer would say yes. But his intuition hasn’t failed him yet.

Sometimes to go against the grain you simply have to spend more time in the trenches and less in the bubble of your own business.

Here at Web.Search.Social we’ve been on a pretty tall soapbox lately about the ineffectiveness of content curation. We’ve made a few people mad but we’ve also closed business because people are getting tired of effort without results.

Your Industry Is Infected With “Follow The Crowd” Syndrome

Mine is. Yours is. Every industry is.

The problem is that there is so much noise that it’s become increasingly difficult for our customers – and yours – to separate the good from the utter trash.

What happens in all that noise is that something gets repeated – and repeated again – until it starts to become common wisdom. The way things are. But even if something is repeated a million billion times, that doesn’t necessarily make it true. All it means is that it’s in the echo chamber of the internet.

Unfortunately, that’s what our customers then seek out because they’ve been conditioned to think that the thing they hear repeatedly is the right thing.

But you and I, we know better.

Our experience has taught us more than that.

So here’s your homework. I want you to dig down into what you know. Find the things that are wrong with the way your industry works or the way your competitors represent it.

Name the things that don’t comply with expectations.

Figure out what’s being repeated ad nauseum until people start to believe it for no other reason.

Challenge the status quo by asking why.

I even want you to challenge the things you think you know and ask if there might be a better way.

Then go out there and say it. Say it loud on your blog. Post it on your social networks. Incorporate it into your elevator pitch and your website and your lead generation process.

Make sure that your prospects and customers know that you’re paying attention. That you’re not in business to feed them the same mush they can get anywhere. Because people will notice when something breaks the plane of the usual.

And trust me, when you’ve got conviction on your side, you may not convince everyone but you will convince the right people.

Still here? Get busy. You’ve got a system to buck. And feel free to shoot me an email or comment if you’ve got an idea or grievance to share. I’d love to hear it and share my thoughts with you, too.

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • “Challenge the status quo by asking why.” you are asking for trouble 🙂

  • Love this part:
    You’re Not In The Business Of Pleasing Colleagues. You’re In Business To Serve Your Customers.
    Seriously. You know I love me a good soapbox. My latest one is about all the list-building hype. It’s time to focus on the people who are already in front of us. Already connected to us. Go deep!

    • It’s way more fun to be controversial. And you don’t even have to try too hard to do it. Especially in our business there is just SO much wrong! There is too much hype and too many 10-step plans and easy blueprints.

      I’m on board with the list building vs list paying-attention. That’s been on my mental bug list, too. Numbers are sort of pointless if you’re not doing anything with them. It’s the same idea as getting Facebook fans and Twitter followers. Who cares?

      List subscribers is a given obsession. There is plenty of advice (much of it generic) about how to grow a list. It doesn’t take a genius. But there isn’t as much about what to DO with it once you’ve got the list.

      Sounds like a good soapbox 🙂