On Being Different

diffpaint“So sir, I see you got into a lively Facebook discussion with Alan Weiss the other day,” I volunteered to start our weekly talks.

“Actually, I was on his side, Watson,” The Effective Detective responded with just a trace of irritation.

“Sorry sir,  I wasn’t trying to imply anything one way or the other regarding whether your were being adversarial. You have made your lack of love towards things like Search Engine Optimization quite obvious,” I replied, trying to keep the conversation going.

“Actually Watson, what the interesting part of this is that for Alan, it doesn’t really matter terribly whether he is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. One can always find exceptions to any rule, and that is sufficient to have people scurry over to try the latest and greatest thing. So, in point of fact, there can occasionally be a situation where doing the ‘wrong’ thing can work for some. No, the interesting part of the discussion is how Alan Weiss presents himself as different,” The Detective responded, seemingly forgetting completely any perceived insult I had inadvertently hurled.

“Different in what way, sir?” I asked.

“Ah Watson, different in his perceptions and conclusions. Unique among a vast number of his peers in his opinion of a large number of perceived truths. That is what makes him stand out. That is part of his appeal,” The Detective explained.

“It also seems to gain him some detractors,” I muttered.

“Precisely Watson! Notice how several people were shocked at his pronouncement and responded emotionally, but at the same time multiple people jumped in on his side, including myself. That is exactly the reaction I believe he wants! Let the haters hate. The true believers, his tribe, will respond with him, and engage even more strongly,”  The Detective began, winding up for the pitch.

“What happens when we try to please everyone? When we choose not to offend anyone? The result of course is no one finds us terribly interesting. We are plain vanilla. How many truly well-known thinkers and celebrities are universally adored? None! Their very individuality creates a group that disagrees with them or responds negatively to them. People that want to be loved by everyone are ignored. They do not provoke an emotional response. They don’t stand out.

“This is a flaw in so many people’s marketing and sales processes. They are so intent on appealing to a wide swath of their market, that they don’t take a stand on anything. Unfortunately, this renders them invisible. Instead of having a group that fanatically follows them – and may even buy from them, and another that fanatically shuns them, they have no one, while thinking they have everyone. What a waste,” The Detective concluded.

“So Vive Le Difference! eh sir?” I interjected into the quiet pause.

“Corny, but true and succinct as always Watson. Let us move on and find something to be provocative about,” The Detective replied with a touch of a smile.

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