Going after the bad guys
And why the best marketers take a strong point of view instead of trying to appeal to everyone
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Most people are too scared to say what they really think, and it’s holding their marketing back. Think about the legal industry. The law firms out there all seem to have the same generic message about dedication to client service or collegiality. Very few firms have truly differentiated messaging. And it’s not just the firms either. It’s like, everyone.1 People just seem to want to play it way safe when it comes to marketing.
Today I’m going to try to make the case for taking a strong point of view (POV) from a marketing perspective. And I’ll show you how to do it effectively. Basically, you need to draw a line between “us” and “them” and turn the “them” into villains, ie. bad guys. In my view, doing this effectively will make you beloved by your target market, and has the unexpected benefit of enabling you to be authentic and true to yourself.
Most people shy away from this approach. I know I did, for most of my life. I was worried that having strong opinions would alienate too many people, which would hurt me in the long run. Many lawyers have this fear, too. So they rely on bland messaging that appeals to absolutely no one. What they fail to realize is that putting out generic marketing sends a HUGE message to your target audience or market. It says:
“I don’t care about anything. The only thing I care about is making money. From you.”
This is the point that most people miss when they try to appeal to everyone. Your target audience absolutely notices that you’re playing it safe. So they view you as an outsider, as someone who’s just there to make a quick buck. And so they ignore you. The same dynamic plays out on LinkedIn every day when people put out humble brags, corporate blogs, and other boring content in the hopes that it’ll lead to “business development.”2
Ok, I’ll admit it. The generic approach can work, sometimes. Usually for big companies or large firms. They don’t really need to win over anyone with their marketing—they just need to stay top of mind, because they’re already a trusted brand. But if you’re an upstart firm, or a startup/scaleup, or someone with a small reputation trying to make a name for themselves—you can’t take the big company approach.
Hopefully what I just said gets you thinking. “Okay, I’m interested in putting out a strong POV,” you might say. “But how should I do it? In a way that doesn’t hurt my business?” Well that’s the subject of today’s post.
In short, you have to take a strong public POV but before you do, you’ve gotta be *very* selective about who you decide to make the “bad guy” and *very* careful in how you go after them. Everything MUST done in a way that’s aligned with your business goals.
I’ll explain below.