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Personal Branding: Don’t Be Afraid to Shake Up Your Market

Many of the business owners that I work with are low-key and don’t love the spotlight. And most of them don’t like the idea of creating controversy.

But sometimes, as I tell them, generating a bit of controversy can be exactly what your brand needs. Now, I’m not talking about just any type of controversy. I’m talking about going against the grain—providing value to your customers in ways that your competitors aren’t.

Think about the way Apple revolutionized the mp3 player market in the early 2000’s, and the then again the smart phone market a few years later. Customers loved Apple products, but their competitors certainly didn’t. Steve Jobs wasn’t afraid to shake up his market and put real pressure on the competition. The result speaks for itself.

You may not be an international corporation, but the point still stands. You shouldn’t be afraid to shake up your market and generate some controversy—whether it’s through an aggressive marketing campaign, a new approach to the services you provide, or by introducing a brand-new business model.

But it is true that the wrong kind of controversy can have negative consequences on your brand and your business. So keep these four points in mind:

1) Don’t be disrespectful. It is one thing to be bold and clear while promoting your products and services, and while contrasting them against the competition. It’s another thing entirely to disrespect and bad-mouth the competition in your market. While this approach may generate attention and even perhaps lead to a short-term spike in sales, it’s a bad long-term strategy. Treat your competitors with the respect that you would like to be treated with.

2) Make sure you have done your homework. If you are preparing to “shake up” your market with a new product, a new service, a new marketing campaign, or whatever… ask yourself this question: “why hasn’t anyone else done it this way?” It may be that nobody else has ever thought of the idea. But there may be other reasons – such as legal liability or other unforeseen consequences. If you’re going to take a bold step, you’re going to attract attention, so make sure you have “dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s.

3) Be prepared for the backlash. The better your innovation, the less your competitors are going to like it. So be prepared. I’ve had clients that have introduced incredible new services to their marketplace, and immediately had their competition gang up against them in an effort to defend the status quo. Don’t let this surprise you.

4) Never lose focus on providing value. This is the key. Controversy for controversy’s sake isn’t a winning strategy. But if the innovation you are introducing increases the value of your products or services to your marketplace, you’re going in the right direction. Run every decision through the filter of “does this increase the value we can offer to our customers?”

At the end of the day, your job as a business owner is to provide a superior experience to your customers and your marketplace. And if you have to shake things up in order to get your message out, don’t back down. Be bold, be clear, and get the word out. Feel free to get in touch with me or with any of the Agents at the Agency if you’d like to learn more!