First, Break All Your Best Practices
I’m a rule breaker. I like to get involved, dig in and break stuff. It’s the only way to learn, and in my opinion, it is the best way to constantly be discovering what’s best for you or your business. Getting comfortable with processes will translate to only one thing in the end – plateaued growth. As a business owner, you should always be learning and therefore… growing.
In order to be more involved with your business and make the best decisions, you need to toss that rulebook out the window once in a while! That’s right — connecting with your consumers may just take some unorthodox steps that violate all of marketing’s best practices.
In case you haven’t noticed, the world of marketing is full of rules — and it seems like they get more complicated every year.
Being a rule-breaker doesn’t mean you get to throw on a tricornered hat and run willy-nilly into a “rules revolution.” (Although, on second thought that would be a lot of fun!) Even when it comes to breaking the rules, there are rules you’ve got to follow.
Learn All The Rules Before You Try To Break Them
This isn’t optional. You have to actually know what the rules are before you try to break them or rewrite them. If you don’t know the rules, you aren’t being avant-garde or brave when you take your company off-script. You’re just stumbling around in the dark, hoping that you’ll hit “pay dirt”.
Breaking the rules is a calculated act. Learning the rules gives you credibility. Your credibility and experience with the rules are what makes breaking them a calculated risk, not a foolish mistake. It’s the difference between blazing a new trail and just tripping over tree roots in the marketing forest.
What would you consider the most unbreakable rule for your brand? I’m curious! Add it in the comments below.
Break The Rules In A Way That Aligns With Your Company Values
If you want your company to stand out from the pack, you have to be willing to do things no other company in your genre is willing to do.
Think Wendy’s or Merriam-Webster on Twitter — using sarcasm and humor — which isn’t part of the “rules” for a company’s social media feed or the Squatty Potty and Quilted Northern commercials tackling taboo topics. While these are great examples, simply trying to create what has already been created and jumping on a viral bandwagon doesn’t always work. We can’t all be Ralph Breaks The Internet – working our way to internet fame by mimicking the most viral video topics on the internet. What you do can be “inspired by,” while still being absolutely original. The www-world runs on authenticity. And virtual-fans can smell an over-produced, monkey-see-monkey-do attempt from a million internet connections away!
To ensure you aren’t “overdoing it” on the internet, stay true to your brand’s values and ideals! Make sure that you’re thinking about your brand’s persona when you break the rules. Only break them where it makes sense for you. Break your norms. Break what you thought was ideal. Break your processes. Play with your brand. But don’t ever compromise what it is you believe in or what makes sense for your brand just because everyone else is doing it. The simple fact that everyone else is doing it likely means it is already old news in the engagement world.
You’ll have an easier time understanding when and where to break the rules if you establish a company culture that encourages out-of-the-box thinking and experimentation.
How would you describe your company culture? Tell me! Add it in the comments below.
Be Prepared For The Consequences When You Break The Rules
You can’t be fickle when you decide to break the rules. You have to “go for it,” and commit yourself. Otherwise, you’ll just come off wishy-washy and unreliable. Not having the right attitude or reasoning behind rule-breaking will result in the world walking all over you. Again, you have to be really authentic when being gregarious enough to try something bold and new.
Realize that there are always going to be some people who don’t like what you’re doing. That’s part of marketing! This is where all news is good news in the PR world. Think of the Quilted Northern with “Little Miss Puffytail” and “Sir Froggy” in their “forget the bathroom experience” commercials and the Squatty Potty commercials with the pooping unicorn. They tackled taboo topics in a way that was far too direct for some people — and hilariously relatable for others.
Focus on connecting with customers — your customers. Focus on results. If your rule breaking is getting the results you want, then you’re on the right track. But don’t get too comfortable. Often, the engagement you receive is simply by doing something different!
Over-delivering your great new idea can backfire. Think, Geico commercials. We all love them. But you know when you’re watching commercials and one is far too loud or repeats two times in a row, every single time? That is a fine example of having your authenticity backfire! Do not overdeliver your new, quirky ideas!
There’s nothing inherently wrong with having rules — or following marketing’s best practices. It’s just that rules can end up being a straight-jacket that inhibits your brand’s growth if you aren’t careful. When businesses get too focused on “the rules,” that’s when they become something average — and you don’t want to be average, do you? I didn’t think so!
If you could break just one rule today for your business, what would it be? Add it to the comments!