By Sonia Simone
I'll say one thing for Dan Kennedy, the guy is up front about how much he hates liberals.
I subscribe to his marketing newsletter, and am constantly on the verge of canceling. He hates liberals in every issue. He hates liberal politicians and liberal voters and liberal businesspeople and liberal household pets. If he finds out Mother Teresa or Martha Washington were liberals, they're going on the list.
I find this annoying because the newsletter is a paid subscription, so I'm always mentally calculating what his hatred-of-the-month is costing me. But it is what it is.
Frankly, Kennedy is too disciplined to do something that doesn't work for him. My guess is that his political stance resonates with enough of his audience that he can create a rapport with a good chunk of them through that alone. It reinforces his brand of a politically incorrect, cranky, "no-BS" guy.
Kennedy is a sharp enough marketer that he knows he doesn't have to be all things to all people–he just has to be valuable and memorable to the "herd" he's built up.
So this is not an argument to leave politics out of your content. That's up to you. It works very well in some situations and not at all in others.
But I will give you a little cautionary tale. I recently subscribed to another newsletter, written by a good writer who's very smart about what he does. I happily read through maybe a hundred pages of past issues of newsletters, special reports, and all the other goodies you get when you subscribe to something these days.
Toward the end of my pile of reading material, out of nowhere comes a nasty, angry rant about the ACLU. Not a sentence or two, but a full-on, pissed-off vitriolic diatribe.
Now if you're going to randomly explode into a violent rage one day, I would suggest choosing a target that enjoys more universal hatred. The IRS (or whatever your local tax agency is) will do nicely. Al-Qaeda is always good. And I think even other telemarketers hate telemarketers. You can rant away at targets like this and not do much collateral damage.
But there are quite a few people (like me, as it happens) who find the ACLU an important and even heroic organization. If you're Dan Kennedy and you've spent 20 years blasting away at anything left of Idaho, you haven't created any additional ill will. Your customer either agrees with you, tunes you out, or leaves.
If this is your first shot at the left side of your readership, though, you might want to reconsider.
If you’re going to use a controversial position to define yourself and your tribe, keep it at about the same level all the time. Put it front and center when you begin the relationship, and refer to it often enough that no one forgets.
Don’t worry about scaring away some customers. If you're passionate about this position, it will help you find your tribe and bind them tightly to you.
On the other hand, if it’s not really that important to you, find something that is. The world has enough pissed-off people in it without you looking for ways to add to the rosters.
Flickr Creative Commons image by riotjane