Whether or not a new idea takes off is all about context and your audience. New ideas are often rejected; at least by the vast majority. The exception to this rule are innovators and early adopters; people with a mindset that welcome risk and trying new things. Typically new ideas are met with a heavy dose of criticism. That's a good thing. It means you're on to something. You see, many people are risk adverse. It's common to have skeptics for something that hasn't been done before. But just because someone hasn't done it yet, doesn't mean it can't be done.
Criticism can actually be quite motivating. If you tell a person with a big vision that their idea will never work, be prepared to be proved wrong. You've just stoked the fire. Take the Los Angeles Lakers basketball player Kobe Bryant. He was once told by a guidance counselor that he should give up playing basketball, and that he would never amount to anything. In an interview he recounted what happened next " I took that counselors advice. I took his advice and used it as motivation to become the best basketball player that I could". Criticism is not a bad thing. It's feedback. When a business makes the news over something controversial, you would think this is bad for their company image, right? Wrong. There's this concept called buzz marketing. It refers to the word of mouth publicity that a brand gets from other people talking about it. The idea is whether it's good or bad, people notice when you make the news. It's essentially free publicity for the business. Why run ads when you can have reporters and writers talking about you?
Ice Bucket Challenge
Much like news content, the basic requirements for buzz marketing are something that's unusual, taboo, remarkable, funny, or secretive. Sometimes brands or organizations will intentionally create buzz marketing. An example being the 2014 ice bucket challenge, which promoted awareness for ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease. As you may recall, thousands of people took to their social media accounts to participate in the ice bucket challenge. The result of the campaign had a global reach and raised $115 million for the ALS Association (a non profit dedicated to helping individuals with ALS and finding a cure).
Wendy's Sassy Social Media Strategy
Then there was the fast food chain Wendy's, which became famous on Twitter for roasting it's competitors. Kurt Kane, the chief concept and marketing officer at Wendy's was the genius behind it. Interestingly enough, when Kane started at Wendy's, the company atmosphere was bureaucratic and boring. Kane wanted to change that. He decided to give Wendy's social media team free reign. Encouraging creative discussions about ways to be likeable and sassy with their social media presence. What resulted was pure gold. Their sassy but likeable approach encouraged customer interaction on Twitter; fueling tweet wars aimed at their competitors. As Wendy's surpassed Burger King in sales, other companies are began reaching out for how they could replicate this secret social media sauce.
Innovators and Early Adopters
Your audience is crucial when it comes to new ideas catching on. Perhaps you're familiar with the diffusion on innovation model (pictured below). The model follows as such: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. Innovators are the first ones to try out the new product or service. They are typically risk motivated, and welcoming to new ideas. Then comes the early adopters who also enjoy risk, but have the added benefit of strong influence or thought leadership (meaning they influence a large number of people). When it comes to new ideas, you want innovators and early adopters the most.
The statistics for each stage of the model, refer to the percentage of people who fall into tha particular category. Image courtesy of https://www.mobilespoon.net/2019/02/beware-of-early-adopters.html
Seth Godin, known by many as the guru of marketing, refers to these early adopters as sneezers, with the new idea being a virus. Just like a sneeze, once you tell early adopters about your product, they will spread it to everyone they know. The challenge becomes finding that group of early adopters and how to reach them. This is learned through trial and error. It's about finding what works by learning what doesn't work. Identifying who the smallest viable audience is that loves your product or service, and will tell others about it.
Take Elvis Presley, the famous rock n' roll singer and entertainer. When he came into the music world, he did something no one else had ever done. He introduced a new genre of rock and roll music, by taking existing gospel and blues songs, and modernizing them. Elvis also showcased a passionate style of dance (such as his famous rubber leg), which people of the conservative 1950's had never seen before. The public didn't know how to react. His proactive dance moves quickly gained the approval of young women. Naturally there were critics and strong controversy about Elvis' performances. In fact, when he appeared on the Ed Sullivan show in 1957, Elvis was filmed from the waist up to conceal his moving hips. But regardless of the media's censored attempts, Elvis' fame continued to grow.
Little did his critics know that this simple country boy from Memphis, Tennessee would go on to become a worldwide entertainer, and movie star. In creating a new genre of rock n' roll music, Elvis did more than just perform. He questioned the modest status quo of the 1950's. The way Elvis danced and played his guitar, paved the way for future performers. With Michael Jackson entering the entertainment scene following Elvis' death in 1977. Today Elvis Presley still holds the world record for the most music albums ever sold.
When you're given a global stage like Elvis had, you have the ability to influence a lot of people. While he was commonly referred to by his fans as "the King" [of rock n' roll] he never accepted the title. Instead he publicly said " I am just an entertainer. Jesus is the real king." Visionaries are people who are given a dream for a reason. They are put on this earth to be different. To push the human race forward, using their unique ideas and skills to rally others together, and bring about positive change for the world. These gifts are God given and God driven. There's a quote from Apple's 1995 think different campaign that goes; "here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not found of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do. " To all visionaries out there, I encourage you, don't give up on your dream. Dare to be different. Become who you were meant to be. There are so many people that need you.