You should embrace controversy in the business world to maximize profits.
By Samuel Leeds
In the world of business, a lot of time and energy is put into creating an image, managing reputation and crafting a narrative. It is important to get your message across in a positive, clear and understandable way, but there is also a place for controversy. An authentic brand voice sometimes means saying or doing things that not everyone will like, and that’s okay. In fact, its more than okay; done correctly it can be very profitable.
1. If you don’t have critics, you’re a nobody
People spend so much time worrying what other people will think of them that they avoid getting their name out there. If no one knows who you or your business are, you can’t make money. Being known in your industry means that deals and doors open to you that are not open to other people. But being known also means some people won’t like you, and they openly and publicly say so. Every successful person has his or her critics, no matter how positive an impact he or she has on the world.
A company with 100 percent positive reviews probably has 10 customers. An artist that has only had praise has only shared work with his or her family, and the business person loved by all almost certainly doesn’t own anything bigger than a lemonade stand. The sooner you stop caring what strangers think of you, the sooner you can start making an impact on the world.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care what anyone thinks; the feedback of customers and successful friends and mentors is important. But if someone doesn’t pay for your services and isn’t successful in your field of business, it’s time to stop caring what they think.
2. “Haters” can help you win
There is a difference between a “hater” and a “critic.” There are people that will try your product or service and not like it for whatever reason. This could be due to a failure on your side, it could be a misunderstanding on their side, or it could simply be a difference of opinion. These people are critics, and it is important to listen and see if there is something you can learn from them. “Haters,” on the other hand, are obsessive, dishonest and have their own agendas. That said, if you address these “haters” correctly they will help your business grow.
If a “hater” has a platform of a reasonable size, whether that be mainstream or social media, he or she will drive attention to you and your content. This attention will, of course, be negative. But if you address the false information they are spreading head on, once the initial wave of attention is over, you will have gained new loyal customers impressed at how you debunked the lies.
Of course, this is a careful balancing act as some “haters” earn a living doing these character assassinations, and therefore they will also benefit from the exposure you bring to them. But if you respond when appropriate, and use the attention they bring correctly, they can be an inadvertent asset to your business.
3. All change comes from the controversial
Playwright George Bernard Shaw said, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
It is impossible to change anything or make a difference without controversy. If you “go along to get along,” you will go nowhere. If you want to make your mark on the world and be successful, you have to be the “unreasonable person” sometimes. That isn’t easy because the agreeable person has a much easier time of it, and he or she won’t be criticized for making waves. However, the reasonable person will also be pushed about and forced to adapt to the status quo.
All great business people are that “unreasonable person” at times. They’ve said “yes” when the world has said “no.” They’ve all pushed through, and even used, the controversy their vision generates. They’ve all stood out, rather than down. So be outrageous, bold and — above all — don’t be afraid to be controversial.