You can be everyone’s cup a’ tea. And stay safe.

Or, you can crack the walls of your heart and give your audience something to get behind — and grow a loyal following. 

Take my husband, for example. 

The first time he met my extended family was at Christmas. He started making friends real quick whilst re-enacting a scene from Family Guy. All you need to know is he followed everyone around yelling “It’s a Jackal! It’s a Jackal!” over and over. And over. 

And over.

Twelve years later and my aunts still greet him yelling “It’s a Jackal!” He made THAT much of an impression.

Later that night, we sat down to eat. 

I can’t remember if it was before or after grace, but Tim farted.

Not just a little whisper of a fart we could all pretend not to hear. More like a high pitched whistle a baby might make.

I was mortified. My newly engaged boyfriend farted at the Christmas dinner table. He didn’t make many friends that night. Some of my cousin’s still judge him. 

But here’s the thing: he made an impression. Good or bad, he was remembered. If you love him, you loooove him. There is no in-between.

This type of polarization is exactly what you need to grow your business and your following. Good or bad, make an impression. You can’t be everyone’s cup of tea and if you’re trying to be, you’re holding yourself back.

Vanilla is classic, but it’s not going to cut it in today’s crowded marketplace.

In the US alone, the number of bloggers is expected to reach 31.7 million in 2020. If you keep your personality hidden behind the walls you’ve learned to put up, your brand {and your revenue goals} will get forgotten along with Grandma Doris’ fruitcake.

 

Polarizing content will accelerate your growth.

You’ll gain raving fans who feel connected to you.

People don’t buy products, they buy the beliefs and the identity it gives them. Your audience wants something to get behind. They want something they can be a part of that aligns with their beliefs and values. Give them something they can be a part of.

If you stay safe and never say what you *really* think for fear of offending someone, you’re missing out on gaining loyal customers and raving fans. 

Raving fans bring their friends. Raving fans do what my pastor tells us to do at church:

Find someone you love.
Tell them what you know.
Bring them with you.

In this formula, your raving fans will tell their loved ones. They’ll bring them in the form of tags, shares, forwards and referrals. In today’s age of noise and information overload, your business lives and dies on referrals.

In his book Viralnomics, Jonathan Goodman unfolds the three main reasons why people share content: 1) It’s Funny. 2) A person wants to be part of a group, or strengthen their position in one. 3) They are using info to self-represent.

What does this mean? By sharing content with a strong opinion or a genuine cause people can believe in and stand for, you will strengthen your connection with your following AND see more people sharing and commenting. If it aligns with their beliefs, they’ll share. If it reinforces what they already believe in, they’ll comment.

And what if it doesn’t? Good. You know you’re on the right track when you start to see trolls and unusubscribers. 

You’ll attract your tribe, people that have the same beliefs as you and ultimately, the type of clients and customers who want to pay you.

Authenticity is attractive AND will grow your business

My kids have a friend who is unapologetically himself. He’s learned what adults take their entire lifetime to figure out: be yourself and do it without any explanation. 

The second time he came over to our house, he showed up wearing make-up. Proudly wearing make-up. He has the courage to be himself and because of it, my kids are 100% themselves. They giggle more, they say sillier things and they act like big dorks – they are safe to be exactly who they are; no armor or walls up.

In their book The Go Giver, Bob Burg and John David Mann show us if all things are equal, people will do business with and refer business to those people they know, like and trust.

If you aren’t vulnerable enough to be yourself, you miss out on letting people get to know you. On letting people like you for you. On opening up and gaining trust.

The Go Giver covers 5 Laws for Success. One is The Law of Authenticity, which states: the most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.

Now imagine being 11, showing up to a friend’s house wearing make-up. Or being 38 and showing up to your podcast group, willing to say what you really think in front of a group of well respected friends, ranging everywhere from lawyers to speech therapists. 

It takes practice and it takes courage.

When we’re ourselves and give our beliefs a voice, we give others space to do the same. I’m sure you can think of a friend who does this for you.

Now the hard part, putting this into action for your business.

 

How to put Polarizing Content into action

Let’s be clear before moving on: Having polarizing content doesn’t look like seeking out controversy and offending people. That’s not the goal here.

The goal is about having the courage to step into your voice. 

This takes baby steps and practice. The best place to dip your toes is on social media. Keep in mind that while it might feel scary, people aren’t spending their day thinking about you. 

We are the heroes of our own days and our own stories, so think of your content as platform for your audience to stand on. You’re not the hero — rather, you are the guide facilitating the voice, the cause, the mission. 

Here are some questions to ask yourself and create content around:

  1. What topics in your industry do you have a different opinion on?

    Are you a fan of the carnivore diet even though all your fitness friends mock it? Do you believe intuitive eating is the answer instead of tracking calories and everyone should throw out their scale?
     
    In the online space, there continues to be talk of “email is dead”. Obviously I have strong opinions on this and want every small business to use email as a cornerstone in their business. It should be ONE of many tools in your tool kit.

    I live and breath the numbers daily and they show email is indeed, not dead: 66% of my client’s revenue for Black Friday and Cyber Monday came from email. It’s a big number with a lot of zeros in it.

    Email is not shiny and new, but it continues to be a staple for all successful online businesses and I will shout this loud and proud and guide you how to do it.

     

  2. What causes are you genuinely passionate about?
    Passionate about your faith? One of my favorite people to follow with a strong voice about their faith is a yogi on Instagram: Yogoskenz. She is a proud Mormon and isn’t afraid to talk about it. She’ll voice her opinion on porn and guns too. People either love her or don’t.

    How about Politics? This isn’t my thing, and many people will say you should never mix politics and business, but artist Jennifer Vallez with Sophie & Lili ™ has built her following doing just that and they are loyal AF. She regularly makes posts warning new followers if they don’t like talking politics, they should go ahead and unfollow her.
     
  3. Is there a controversial topic you have a different opinion or viewpoint on?
    Hello Peloton ad? How is this even considered a “controversy”? It’s a bike and she loved it. What else is there to talk about? 
  4. What are the popular trends in your industry and what do you like or dislike about them?
    For example, Hustle is a big thing in the online entrepreneur space.

    I don’t believe in “Hustle” but “Get After It” is more my style. This looks like working hard and some late nights and longer days, but being present for my family.

    When I think hustle, this implies racing from one thing to the next. Being in a hurry. Trying to fit it all in. Being in a flurry just trying to finish something without having a strong focus or thoughtful approach. Instead I like to channel focus and getting after my key goals. Living by a mantra of “hustle” just doesn’t do it for me.

If you can’t answer these few questions, it’s time to find your voice or your business won’t grow at the rate it could. 

The key is giving your customers a cause they already believe in and giving them a way to connect with you. If you don’t voice that cause, your customers can’t join in with you. 


Finally, the last and most difficult step.

Mustering the courage to speak your truth. 

I found the book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert extremely helpful. In it she says: “The world is less impressed by originality. Instead move towards authenticity.”

Maybe you feel like everything has been done or someone else in your industry has already said it? Well, guess what – they likely have. But as Elizabeth Gilbert says it has not been done by YOU.

In a flooded marketplace, you don’t need to fall into a scarcity mindset because you have something no one else does: YOU.

Keep channeling your unique perspective. Keep inviting your people in. Layer your personality into everything you do: your website, your social media, your emails — and you’ll not only attract your people, you’ll grow your business with raving fans.