Turn Heads With Some Punk Rock Marketing For Your Business

Turn Heads With Some Punk Rock Marketing For Your Business. Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

If your marketing is more Cliff Richard rather than Sid Vicious, it might be time to employ some punk rock marketing to turn some heads.

This idea struck me while putting together the latest episode of The Adelaide Show Podcast, which featured the novelty punk rock band, The Public Servants.

In the media release they provided me, one passage stood out that has relevance for all of us:

100,000 songs are released each day, it’s never been so easy to release music. We have a lot of competition for people’s attention. There’s also so much live music in Adelaide – on almost any night of the week there are several shows on, in all genres, at venues all over town. In this context it’s good to stand out, to be a bit ‘weird’, to have a point of difference.

This situation is true in just about every sector. Potential customers are spoilt for choice while also being bombarded by a range of different messages and, somehow, we need to be heard and convey trust at the same time.

And it's not just that we have competitors. Prof Anna Lembke, in her book, Dopamine Nation, sounds the warning that all of us have become so addicted to getting that "hit" of feel good dopamine (from gourmet foods, from streaming and bingeing, from desperately seeking "likes" on social media) that good, old fashioned, solid messages get edged aside by the unexpected and the novel.

She explained this well in an interview on The Creative Process: "News is now engineered to be addictive, right? ... And what's so interesting about our consumption of news is how little new information we actually glean per unit of time we spend getting our news, especially if we're getting it from social media. But what happens is that it really engages our novelty seeking and our desire for dopamine, which looks for something similar, but with just a slight variation."

David Olney and I take Anna's work further in the latest episode of Talking About Marketing, entitled, New Better Best, in which we review the sorts of stories that dominate the likes of Glam Adelaide and CityMag (hey, this new gin bar has all its waiters painted white and they yodel while mixing cocktails), and then discuss what we need to do to survive in this noisy epicentre of novelty.

So what else can we do about this? If The Public Servants are from the government and here to help, then I bet they'd suggest we need to evoke some punk rock marketing. As long as we're finised by four o'clock Friday!

The basic chords of punk rock marketing

Thankfully, punk rock only uses two chords (three for particularly ornate compositions), so you don't have too much to learn.

The first is that punk rock is in-your-face, it is comfortable within itself even as it stands out from the crowd.

This doesn't mean you need a mohawk. However, it does mean that you find the strength to honour Oscar Wilde's encouraging demand to be yourself because everybody else is taken.

I saw this recently at the Women In Business morning tea (I'm one of the mentors who is part of the Women In Business program being run by Adelaide Business Hub and funded by the State Government of SA - yes, other public servants), where the CE of Adelaide Business Hub, Lyn Hay, interviewed Kym Brown, Director of Fun and Experiences, who runs three successful businesses from her base in the Barossa (Ultimate Barossa Retreats, Getaways SA and Tour Barossa).

Yes, Kym's hair was dyed blue, but she also wore bright clothes lending a floral orange flair to her presence. As she moved about the room "in character", she was able to speak her message as she drew questions and interest from the hundred plus audience.

Miss Gladys Sim Choon operated in a similar manner, as discussed in an earlier episode of our Talking About Marketing podcast, entitled: To Sell Is Human. This icon of SA business never left home unless she was adorned in the striking, Asian silks and patterns she was renowned for.

The second part of punk rock is rebellion. It is about zigging while others are zagging.

To achieve this end, we can ponder extreme stunts down to unexpected messaging.

For example, Belle and Pods at Adelaide Hills & Fleurieu Farm Services recently went out on a limb and arranged a Tractoring For Women event to give women from the area a chance to get more confidence in their tractors. Instead of getting ribbed by "bloke culture", they actually won hearts and turned heads. It took courage but it will now ensure the company is "known" in agricultural circles when next they arrange a new event or seek funding, or quote for work. That's a stronger position than being Smith & Generic Service Providers.

At the other end of the spectrum, I wrote a blog post on the weekend for my small coffee business in which I explained how I cut down from eight espressos a day to one. Crazy for a coffee seller to be saying that? Not really. It's an authentic part of the story and one reader said, "somehow reading your blog about cutting back on coffee has enticed me to try your beans!"

Meanwhile, pulling off a crazy stunt is another way to draw attention; if done with care. ChatGPT, speaking in the voice of Sid Vicious (the late lead singer of The Sex Pistols), suggested that if you ran a kayaking and hiking company, you could try the following:

Punk rock is known for its outrageous behavior, right? So why not bring that attitude to your business? Organize attention-grabbing stunts or events that reflect the adventurous spirit of your tours. For example, you could organize a kayak race down a busy river, or a flash mob hiking tour in the middle of a city square. Get creative, think outside the box, and be ready to shock and surprise people.

Final thoughts

All of the above is a reflection on the importance of standing out from the crowd to get seen and heard because people buy from people they know, like, and trust. It's hard to achieve that if we remain unknown.

But, and this is important, this doesn't mean you need to be on a morning TV program or emblazoned across the front pages of newspapers to achieve punk rock marketing success.

You just need to get the attention of people important to your business.

One one hand, this means our ideal customers. If we know what they are seeking, and what problems they are facing (that we can help with), we can give our "attention seeking" activities some important focus.

But it also means people of influence who can help you with grants or connections. By being "known" to such people, they will be more comfortable in taking your calls or opening doors for you.

So, while you could literally take the advice above and form a punk rock band like The Public Servants, below, perhaps the best thing to do over your coffee or tea today is to ponder what you could do to help make you and your business more memorable and "chat worthy" in a good way.

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