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Like him or loathe him, Trump’s campaign has been a brilliant (although repulsive) example of how the marketing tactic of ‘contrarianism’ and ‘polarisation’ produces big results – against expectations.

If I stand back and take my own opinion of his personality out of the equation and look at what he did purely from a marketing stance, there was some brilliance in his strategy.

  1. Know your audience.
  2. Pick those issues that are really pissing your audience off.
  3. Feed on their fears.
  4. Take a super controversial stance on those issues and start finger pointing telling them who the real enemy is. Amp up the anger. Go against what mainstream society things and feels.
  5. Nominate yourself as the leader who has the guts to challenge the status quo and tackle those issues.

The result:

You attract a swag of frenzied groupies ready to live or die by your every word.

Plus …

You attract a swag of enemies who passionately hate you.

There’s no in-between.

Plus …

You attract a ton of free media attention.

Here’s my take though …

Contrarianism is showmanship to a degree.

The promotional stance on issues is used primarily to cement a tribe, force the ‘fence sitters’ to make a choice, and get publicity.

While the contrarian passionately believes in the issues they’re fighting for, the approach to tackling those issues may NOT be as extreme as the marketing spin.

eg. Will he really build a wall? I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe not.

And while the contrarian has this public persona (to his enemies) of being vile, the true person underneath that ‘public persona’ often isn’t quite as extreme.

Underneath that extremist veneer, they often (but not always) have this heart of gold and do some massive good in the world.

Is Trump like that?

He could be.

Or he could end up being like the most famous political contrarian of all time – Hitler.

Even though people have been comparing him with Hitler, my hope is that he is the former.

Time will tell.


Here’s how you learn from it

Taking a contrarian stance in your marketing is massively effective if you’re authentically passionate about the topic that you’re taking a stance on.

And it could do a lot of good in the world…

WARNING: it isn’t for everyone though as donning this ‘warrior’ persona attracts a lot of anger and enemies as much as it does ardent admirers.

So – if this approach floats your boat’ here’s how you do it with your marketing …

First – before I say anything … try to leave your opinions of Trump at the door for a second …

Being a contrarian is neither good nor bad.

It’s simply a way of building a tribe by being an evangelist for the causes that you are passionate about fighting for.

Ask yourself …

  • What are you passionately for?
  • What are you passionately against?
  • What pisses you off about your industry?
  • What is wrong with society in how they view these issues?
  • What can you do to fix the problem?
  • What can you do to change or disrupt the conversation that the industry is having?

Here’s an example …

To answer the question, what pisses me off about my industry is that there’s a lot of ‘snake oil’.

There are a lot of people trying to push their barrow onto clients, when their barrow mightn’t be the right solution based on where the client is now.

eg. if all you have is a hammer everything around you looks like a nail.

In other words, SEO is only right for some businesses and not right for others yet SEO experts will tell you that it gives the best ROI out of any marketing vehicle – which is wrong.

Premium Priced Program coaches will tell other coaches that the best solution for them to make a lot of money is to start selling their own premium priced program.

Is it the right business model for every coach at any stage of business? No.

Branding experts will tell you that to reach your marketing goals the best thing you can do is to spend $10k on a rebrand. Will that give you the best ROI?

If you’re at a certain stage of business, and you have got your lead generation and conversion firing already, maybe yes. But in many cases, NO it isn’t.

I could go on and on but I won’t.

This post is about you.

How can you be a contrarian in your industry? Share your thoughts here. I’d love to hear them.