I was speaking to a reasonably well known local businessperson recently and he declared it a FACT that provocative marketing works.

On further questioning it seems that they felt that by deliberately upsetting 50% of your potential audience then the other half will flock towards you and be desperate to pass business your way. In other words (to quote a buzz phrase) he was #findinghistribe.

Is it just me or is this daft?

First, a couple of points for clarity:

  • I firmly believe that you should speak your mind and stand up for your principles. This should not be confused for deliberately being a dick! This will inevitably put some people off you and your business and that’s ok!
  • It is very different for a large multinational company to use marketing this way. We have seen the likes of Benetton consistently use marketing THEY KNOW will upset people. This should not be confused with a small local business in a tight knit business community.

I trade from Leicester and do a majority of my networking in the city or within about 25 miles of it. While this is a large geographical area the business community is reasonable small – and people talk.

I am fond of the phrase that ‘Leicester is a village’ and the same applies for most business hubs. In a village, gossip spreads, mud sticks and reputations can be destroyed in a matter of minutes. Why risk this for some short-sighted attempt at keeping up with the latest marketing fad??

I see people adopting this method to get themselves attention on a variety of formats – mainly online on forums (especially the 4Networking forum sadly) and with online videos. I would like people who undertake marketing like this or have read a book/seen an ‘expert’ suggesting they do this to remember the following:

  • Your footprint on the internet lasts forever. You may have a business now but what if you need a job in a few years? Would you employ yourself?
  • Marketing fads come and go. The next one will be to ‘love everybody’
  • Why upset half your potential market for no apparent reason? Seriously, why?
  • Offence is taken, rather than given sure, but why try and upset people. Surely we left the playground behind year ago?
  • You may think you are being a big man and live in an echo chamber but never forget that people talk and business people have long memories.

Lastly – just don’t be a dick!

James Blacklaws

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