Winning Strategies Are Controversial – Ice, Ice Baby!

Yo, V.I.P. let’s kick it… Ice, Ice Baby. If you recognize the 1990 Vanilla Ice blockbuster hit, don’t be embarrassed. If you hummed the little bass line jingle in your head after you read the title, then be VERY embarrassed.

Love it or hate. Rip off or not. This song went big. Really big. It went #1 in the US. It went #1 in Australia. It even went #1 in Ireland. For a kind-of-one-hit-wonder Vanilla’s song really went the distance. How did this happen? How did a song from a then unknown guy get so big? He did it by achieving the perfect storm for success and you can too. First, he put people in a position where they either loved the song or hated it. (I loved it by the way – call me what you will.) Then, he mixed in a perfect amount of controversy, with the whole uproar over copying Queen’s song. Finally, like a marketing maestro, he produced a melody that was so simple and memorable that it stuck in your head as easily as the happy birthday melody. Shit! – I still wake up at night in a cold sweat humming that base line jingle. I run to the bathroom to splash water in my face and take a peak in the mirror – Aaahhhh!!!! – my head has a Max Headroom haircut!

Your business can achieve Vanilla Ice status too. Albeit, I suggest you don’t follow the path of the Iceman himself. (There were lots of drugs and problems afterward.) But when it comes to his hit, you can duplicate it. Here are the key tips:

1. Polarize People – I am sure you have heard the adage that you shouldn’t try to be everything to everybody. While that is good advice, it falls way short. Success is achieved by getting some people to be emotionally attached to your message and others to be pissed at your message. This gets the people that love you, defending you. And the people that don’t like you, talking more and more about why they don’t like you. The result is you get increasing exposure and more feverish loyalty.

2. Walk the Line of Controversy – If you walk the edge you will get noticed. If you go over the edge you will fall off and die. It is a dangerous line, but it gets attention. For a long while my most viewed blog by 10 fold was the “You Don’t Smell That Bad” blog. Talk about a controversial headline, it drew people right in. I even received hate mail from one of my best friends (true story.) Once you get past the headline, the article talks about a honest and heartfelt message that we all can understand. That’s how you walk the edge. You (and I) just need to be very careful.

3. Make it Memorable – Complexity is confusing and people will zone out right away. But if your message is short, to the point and repeated over and over – it has the potential to stick in people’s minds. This is one reason songs are so powerful. They are simple messages, the chorus is repeated over and over, and they are short – 3 minutes or less in most cases. Now it is time to use this in your business. The question is not IF you can apply these techniques, the question is HOW do you apply these techniques to your business. When you figure that out, your business has the potential to grow explosively and be the next Ice, Ice Baby.

That’s the lesson for today. I’ve got to cut outta here and get rollin’ in my 5.0 with my rag top down so my hair can blow. Word to your mother.


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