Creating controversy is one way to get your brand to race out in front of the masses and garner some...
Creating controversy is one way to get your brand to race out in front of the masses and garner some serious consumer attention. But it has to be done carefully and artfully. Shooting from the hip and making outlandish statements will most likely do more harm than good. But if you’re up for it, let’s look into how you can successfully pull off this publicity.
First Let’s Talk About Your Audience
Very few businesses have the ability to please everybody. Popular soda companies even have a group of people who loathe their brand – health food fanatics. So taking a side is quite alright. In some cases it’s a great strategy to build a cult following for your brand.
If we go back to the early 1980’s, there was a computer company that fiercely looked down upon the enormous and well-established IBM computers. That company was Apple Computers. By picking a fight with the “Goliath” in their industry, they were able to garner support from an audience who felt for them through their highly controversial Super Bowl ad in the year 1984.
The point is: picking a side and really showing that you’re different than the competition can arm you with very loyal followers that make great customers for life. And a relatively easy way to do this is to write controversial blog posts.
We’re going to go over some angles of attack you can use when writing controversial posts:
The Basic Recipe
Target something in your niche that is obviously headed in the wrong direction and discuss its flaws and what a better solution might be. You might want to have a “pow-wow” with other industry heads first to sanity check your idea.
The beauty of these types of blog posts is they get emotional for you the author and in-turn strike emotion in other people. That’s how you make real connections and thus create a cult following.
An Example: The Internet Challenge
In 2007 Jason Calacanis, a well-respected and successful internet entrepreneur, made a statement saying that he felt SEO was, well to put it nicely, “malarkey”. His statement didn’t look favorably on the SEO marketing industry.
A young SEO marketer named Neil Patel (photo show above) wrote a famous blog post called “Open Challenge to Jason Calacanis” where he made a simple bet:
“So to you Jason, I offer the following challenge: I can take your blog and increase your daily search traffic by a minimum of 10 to 20% after 30 days of putting my changes into effect. I will NOT be doing anything “shady” or unethical and will even point out all the changes that will be made to your blog. You can even have your own designer/programmer make the changes to your blog; I will even layout everything for them using step-by-step instructions.
As well as increasing your traffic I would like to educate you about SEO and what it is really about. There are tons of great and ethical SEOs that help companies increase their traffic without doing anything against the guidelines of search engines.”
As you can see, Neil played an angle where he rallied his entire industry on his side. This got people talking – which is the essence of buzz marketing and great PR. He goes on to say:
“If you win, I can post about the fact that SEO is really an over-rated science and actually have proof to back it up. If I win, you post that SEO is awesome, and again with the proof to back it up.”
Jason accepted. Sure enough within a few months Neil was able to lift Jason’s blog traffic. This publicity stunt through a simple blog post, helped make Neil famous and he has since done quite well for himself.
Strategy 1: Compare and Contrast
If you know something is downright ugly in your niche or notice a great disparity between two things, you can always write and compare and contrast post to prove your point.
This approach is almost full-proof because you’re going to have to cite your reasoning for each point. In essence it will sanity check your post for you since you’ll have to look through all the evidence, rather than writing a purely opinionated post straight from the gut.
If you don’t have the stomach for more intense controversy, you can stick with compare and contrast posts as a regular form of controversial blogging.
Strategy 2: Pick a Fight
One angle is to take a stab at a bigger and well-established competitor. If you can identify some of their short-comings, you can expose this in a blog post. A great way to find some shortcomings is to check Google and Twitter for unhappy customers and interview them.
In Google simply search using the terms “Expletive + Company Name”. With Twitter, use their advanced search page and spend time trying to find something negative about the company. Notice at the bottom of the Twitter search you can select the “unhappy face” parameter which actually does a good job of finding people who are upset in their tweets.
Strategy 3: Dispel Myths
Uncovering myths in any subject matter always gets attention and backlinks. If you’re knowledgeable enough to disprove a common misconception, then definitely start doing it. In these cases, you want to be the first publication to unveil these crucial findings. What will happen is that you’ll be the main article everyone links to when they start arriving at similar conclusions.
Here are some example “Myth-busting” blog post titles for various niches:
Skateboarding: Why the Notion That WD-40 Destroys Your Bearings is a Myth
Basketball: Basketball Shoes Actually Lower Your Vertical Leap
Running: Throw Away all Those Old Running Shoes – They’ve Been Ruining Your Body for Years
If you get good at writing controversial posts, you may find this as a regular tool to boost your brand awareness and attract powerful backlinks for SEO resulting in major traffic and if you're website is optimized for conversion, tons of sales. It’s actually a very easy publicity stunt because you can do it from behind your computer in your pajamas. But beware; you’ll most likely attract counter-attacks. So be prepared to fight.