Make Enemies and Get Free Advertising.

Question: What is the most valuable asset any brand can possess? If you answered, “loyal enemies,” you go to the head of the class. 

And if you didn’t know that enemies are your most valuable asset… Well…

Look what enemies did for Donald Trump. The mainstream media gave him $2.6 billion dollars worth of free publicity when he ran for president. He was able to get free advertising from the people who hated him the most. (Source: The Street and the New York Times.)

How did that happen?

How To Win Enemies and Influence Friends

If Trump didn’t upset so many of the “right” people with his words, then they wouldn’t have been so eager to discredit him. They thought they were working to discredit them. But he just used them to get free advertising.

Like some weird outer-space creature from a bad Star Trek episode – he seemed to feed on their hatred and grow stronger with every attack. And – even more fascinating – they continue doing it even now.

The media almost uniformly hate the man. Yet they can’t stop themselves from talking about him. It isn’t very rational on their part to keep giving him so much free publicity. Why won’t they just stop?

As you’ve learned if you’ve been one of my readers or customers for any time at all, human beings are not rational.

Donald Trump inflames their hatred with his outlandish pronouncements. The reason they can’t stop talking about The Donald is precisely because they hate him so much.

It’s almost as if he does it on purpose…

Keep Your Friends Close And Your Enemies Pissed Off

We’re taught from an early age to play nice, turn the other cheek, don’t make waves. So you’re surprised – maybe even a little offended – when someone turns on you. We’re taught not to make enemies if we can help it.

Well, as nice as that sounds, it’s lousy advice. At least for business.

If you want your business to boom, you need to cultivate the anger and hatred of your enemies. The more public their hatred, the better it is for you. And if you don’t have any enemies, then you clearly aren’t doing the right thing. (How else do you expect to get free advertising?)

Loyal enemies are worth a hundred passionless customers. They’re worth ten loyal customers, for that matter. Why? Because loyal enemies care enough to hate you. Their passion compels them to speak out against you. And when they speak out against you, that’s when the magic happens.

When your enemies speak out against you, that’s when the magic happens.

The intensity of their hatred provokes your fans. Your average customers will get irritated with the enemy. They will feel compelled to defend you to their friends. And your truly loyal customers will charge to your defense like St. George rescuing the damsel from the dragon.

Your fans will take up your cause and try to shout down the haters. It’s… human nature.

You’ll reap the benefits. People are talking about you. Haters are talking about you. Fans are talking about you. Interest in you is building. At that point, all you gotta do is keep delivering a decent product or service at a fair price. Oh, and one other thing: keep inflaming the haters.

The Donald’s Been Doing It Forever

Donald Trump used this technique to great effect long before he ever thought about running for president. For example, in 1986, his company won a contract from the city of New York to repair and refurbish the Wollman Skating Rink. He used these same tactics to win the contract and garner tons of free publicity as well. (Source: Forbes online.) (Oh, and he completed the contract 30% early and 25% under budget.) He didn’t shame people. He just shamed the system that allowed all previous rebuilding projects to be massive failures. And then – once the project was done – he credited his success to good management. He didn’t publicly shame anyone, (other than Mayor Ed Koch.) Still, he intentionally inflamed the passions of both supporters and detractors. Free publicity combined with a quality product is an unbeatable combination. No wonder he was able to get free advertising. With skills like that, it’s easy to understand how he was able to make a ton of money. He wasn’t paying for advertising. He let the people who hated him do the  advertising for him.

The Care and Feeding of Enemies 101

So is there a “Best Practices” method for creating the right kind of enemies? Absolutely. There is a right way and a wrong way to go about making and provoking enemies. This is where business diverges a little from politics. In politics, you can successfully create haters by attacking people as well as ideas. In business, don’t attack people. Only attack ideas, systems, programs and products. Never attack people. And the attack starts with your manifesto. (You’ve got a manifesto, don’t you?) What exactly is a manifesto? According to Wikipedia:

“A manifesto is a published verbal declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government.”

This is no passionless, soulless corporate Vision Statement. This is a line in the sand. An intentional provocation. In fact, the word “manifesto” is from the latin phrase manu festus which means “struck by hand.” It implies action, passion, and impatience. Your manifesto must be hot-blooded, full of fire and fury. You don’t have time to lay out a reasonable argument. You’re in hurry to change the world, and you won’t be bothered with insignificant details. That’s why you “strike by hand” your thoughts, beliefs, hopes and dreams for the future. Your manifesto is the verbal equivalent of a molotov cocktail tossed through the window of the status quo. It is intended to explode, burn and leave a mark. It is not intended to be subtle, reasonable or even possible. In fact, any manifesto worth reading will be entirely unreasonable.

Build Your Manifesto and Buckle Up

A good manifesto has three parts:
  1. Denounce the Problem(s) with the Status Quo
  2. Pronounce the Glorious Future, (once the problems of the status quo are fixed)
  3. Announce the Actions you are taking to make that future vision a reality.
You must demonize the enemy, (whatever that may be). You must turn molehills into mountains. You must not worry about the details of execution. What matters is the passion and urgency of your mission. You must issue a clarion call to all right-minded folk to join you in your glorious mission. Do that with your manifesto. Publish it far and wide, and you will create loyal fans. Even better, you will create loyal enemies. Make sure you publicize all the nasty things people say about you. Send an email to your fans saying “look what they said about me,” and then copy and paste their insults. That will galvanize your supporters to ride to your defense. Remember to thank them – publicly and humbly – for their support. And then get ready for the  onslaught of business. It will come as surely as day follows night.
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