Bullish on Books Blog

Why It's Cool (and Good for Business) to Be ‘Unpopular’

Erika Napoletano|Author, "The Power of Unpopular"

GUEST AUTHOR BLOG: Is Your Brand Overweight? A Discussion on Fat vs. Wealth by Erika Napoletano author of, "The Power of Unpopular: A Guide to Building Your Brand for the Audience Who Will Love You (and why no one else matters)."

The Power of Unpopular
Source: Amazon.com

Breaking up is hard to do…

Once a Neil Sedaka ditty, the practice has evolved into the daily business of starting and ending relationships. And it’s easier than ever. Frankly, it’s not hard at all.

Gone are the days of the adolescent turmoil – hours on end spent on the phone with friends trying to figure out should I stay or should I go now? (and yes, I’m bringing The Judys into the mix). Instead, relationships are treated with a definitive irreverence, thanks to the ushering in of the digital age. We can unfriend, unfollow, block and if we’re particularly cantankerous that day, block anyone who ruffles our feathers (or plucks them out).

But on the other side of the coin, we’re just as concerned with accumulation as we are the purging.

While breaking up might have become easier to do, people and brands are loath to undertake the paring and pruning of digital enthusiasts. We’ve become collectors of numbers, chasers of perceived online influence, and ever-willing subscribers to the “more is more” doctrine.

So what are brands doing wrong in this scavenger hunt for more and more?

It starts with seeking more and more when we should be more concerned with why and who.

When’s the last time you stepped on the scale and thought, “Hey guuuuurl…you are wealthy!” Thursday of never is my best guess. That uncomfortable number staring you back in the face – you know, the one you see when your favorite belt has run out of notches and the button on your skirt looks like an Edvard Munch painting– it’s fat. Plain and simple. What we really want to see when we step onto a scale – or apply any metric to measure our audience – is wealth. So what’s the difference?

Fat’s made up of a bunch of crap we don’t need. We’re not sumo wrestlers and the excess isn’t an asset. It weighs us down and keeps us from being nimble. It’s unhealthy. When brands focus solely on numbers where their audience is concerned – of followers, fans, likes – they get fat. They’re unconcerned with how they put the weight on and shove piles of digital people into their brands. And what generally happens is those digital people just sit there. Why? Because you didn’t bother to plan what you would do with them once you got them where you needed to go. There was no emotional investment in your brand on their part. They came over because you told them to and held the door open.

Author, "The Power of Unpopular"
Erika Napoletano

But what would it look like if we built wealthy audiences?

Liken it to the process of taking your brand to the gym and hiring a personal trainer. If you weigh 205lbs. walking in the door of that gym in January, work out five days a week, skip the Taco Bell drive-thru diet plan, and come hop on the scale in March at the same 205 – I’m betting there’s a difference.

Your pants are falling off. There’s muscle definition where there was once jiggle. You don’t run past mirrors in the locker room.

A fat 205 looks a fair sight different than a lean and mean 205 – and that lean, mean 205 is wealthy, I tell ya.

Fat audiences just sit there and weigh you down, embroiling you in the business of trying to figure out how to get them to do what you want them to do. Fat’s useless – and frankly, dangerous should you find yourself in a plane-downed-in-the-Andes situation where survivors are looking at you like a hot fondue pot.

But wealthy brands with wealthy audiences…that’s where the magic happens.

Suddenly, it’s no longer about numbers. It’s about people.

Why do they love you?

Why do they keep coming back?

Why do they bring their friends when they return?

Which empowers you to pay attention to the whos.

Who’s here?

Hey, it’s Bob!

Amanda had a really great point – I’m going to send that to the web development team.

Brands become fat when they focus more on the process of accumulation than on asking the better question: Why do I want to attract those people? Sure – it might make you the a-hole in the Marketing meeting to suggest skipping the Facebook campaign to get your brand a gazillion likes in 30 days, but if you don’t start that conversation – who will?

Digital bloat is completely avoidable. We should be more willing to pare-down our audience and take the unpopular path – knowing that it’s not about number or less-is-more. It’s just a simple matter of building an audience composed of people who are there willingly and enthusiastically. And you, in turn, can then be the brand – the human brand – who listens, thanks and reciprocates.

Wealthy audiences free you up, lift you up, offer support, and get you on with the business of doing what you do best: building and growing the brand your audience has come to love. Brands can’t grow and thrive if they’re weighed down with people who don’t belong in their fold in the first place. Which is exactly why it’s never about numbers because audience size? Yeah, it doesn’t matter. What matters most is that your audience is listening. Fat brands and audiences? Not listening. Not conversing. Just collecting. Maybe it’s time to ditch the Neil Sedaka riff and realize that a shedding of audience weight is in order. Get nimble again and build the audience your brand deserves instead of the one it’s burdened with.

Erika Napoletano holds no fancy titles and is an expert at nothing except screwing up royally and learning from her mistakes. As the person behind the RedheadWriting online persona, she’s been hailed by Forbes as a “spinless spin doctor” for her BS-free perspectives on business, marketing, branding, and life in general. She's the Head Redhead at RHW Media, a Boulder, CO-based marketing consulting firm. She’s a twice-published author, including The Power of Unpopular. You can connect with her if your modern sensibilities allow on Twitter or Facebook and learn more about her at www.erikanapoletano.com.

Email me at bullishonbooks@cnbc.comAnd follow me on Twitter @BullishonBooks