Marketing that works is content that offends

“I don’t want to upset anyone.”

We hear this at least once a week from well-meaning, yet potentially misguided clients. On the surface, not offending people is a good thing, but when you dig a little deeper – this kind of attitude can be not only detrimental but disastrous for a marketing message.
Let’s use our business as an example. One of our key marketing personas – those who we tailor our message to – is CEO Samantha.

She’s 37 years old, two kids, runs a business with $50m turnover and enjoys overseas holidays and designer clothes. She’s also pro-capitalism and middle-right wing in her politics.

When we create a message, it’s tailored specifically to Samantha. We consider how she will react, what she’ll think and whether she will take the action we wish to.

– She likes political messages
– Enjoys ideas over rhetoric (meat on the bones)
– Doesn’t like social guilt, prefers engaging high-value content
– Wants to be on the cutting edge

So, if we were to write a piece about politics, but sit on the fence with regards to left and right wing ideology we would alienate Samantha at two critical levels – our message would come across as ‘wishy-washy,’ and having no substance, and we would potentially create feelings of social guilt.

The common sense solution is to tone down the message – not offend anyone – and, in doing so, failing to engage anyone. After all, if the overarching message doesn’t appeal, Samantha’s not going to read it, watch it or listen to it.

The right idea, delivered through the most appropriate platform, as the right message.

So, an effective marketing message must appeal directly to your target persona – and in doing so, alienate those who do not fall directly within that target. This is the reason that most marketing falls on deaf ears – it has to, it doesn’t speak to any individual out of fear of alienating a certain portion of the population.

Don’t worry – if they aren’t in your target market, they need to be offended.