Get P*ssed Off | How A Dose Of Rage Can Revive A Stale Business

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Last Saturday my wife had to sit on the ‘naughty step’. 

We’ve been teaching my two-year-old that hitting someone is not acceptable. One day, however, I was in the mood to wind my wife up. So after one inappropriate joke too many, I got a thump on the arm (admittedly I deserved it).

Little did we know that a small pair of eyes had witnessed it and my daughter piped up, “Mummy, don’t hit Daddy! Go and sit on the naughty step!”

So to set a consistent example, my wife had no choice but to apologise and sit on the naughty step for two whole minutes.

Despite her best efforts, a dose of rage had gotten the better of my wife, even if just for a second
But a bit of anger can actually be useful when we start out and set up a business. If you feel angry about something, it usually means you want to do something to change it. Anger fires you up. It puts you on a mission. It gives you a purpose. It gets your feet out of bed every morning and is a shield against the humdrum of everyday working life.

Sometimes businesses get stale though
They can become stale to us and stale to our customers. And this staleness doesn’t necessarily creep in after years. It can happen after only a few months of starting up. It’s easy to get stale and tired from long hours and little reward.

But channelled in the right way, a dose of rage can be our friend
Rage can inject gusto, determination and focus into our work and set us on entrepreneurial feats of derring-do. It can infiltrate the words on our homepage, and ideas for new products and services. Rage and standing for or against something is a magnet for customers.

So how do we find our rage? What if we don’t have it already? 
One place to start is to ask ourselves one question: 'What is p*ssing me off right now?’ That’s right. What is it that p*sses you off about the way things are done in the industry that you work in?

Let me explain.

When I started The Big Apricot, I wondered, ‘Why set it up at all?’
There are so many marketing businesses out there, why would mine be any different? At that time I was making 50-mile long car journeys to a consultancy project, and it was during these journeys that I would go over and over this thought about how to be different.

And then one thought struck me
Instead of thinking, ‘What should I do differently?’, I should think about ‘Whatshouldn’t I be like?’ ‘What do I not want to be?’ In other words ‘What p*sses me off about the way things are currently done by other companies?’ 

My answer came quickly: I absolutely hate all the low-value, clickbait articles out there, which promise you '10 ways to do XYZ' and 'become a millionaire tomorrow'. Yet in reality, they promise nothing but empty guff and random tactics. 

That was my dose of rage
I decided to stand against these snake oil marketers and their 'tactics first' thinking. Instead, I wanted to lead with what I know works better: start with strategy, tactics come after.

So there I had it, ‘Strategy first, tactics second’. That was the answer to what was p*ssing me off. And I could shape my products around this approach.

'Strategy first, tactics second' might not be on the same level of Elon Musk’s world-changing ideas, but in the world of small business marketing advice, it’s a big deal if you want to help somebody make their business successful.

And what about other businesses who have asked themselves: ‘what p*sses us off?'
Well, there was Anita Roddick who set up the Body Shop as a rage against unethical consumerism. Scottish beer brand Brewdog stood against all the bland, mass-market beers and became instrumental in kick-starting the craft beer trend. Steve Jobs raged against a cock-sure Microsoft exec who was bragging about Microsoft’s plans for a tablet (recently disclosed here). It was this bragging that made Steve Jobs want to beat Microsoft. And what was born out of that rage? Apple’s mighty iPhone and iPad.

Why is it so important to ask ourselves this question?
Answering the question ‘What p*sses me off?’ fires up our inner fuel about what we want to focus on and to change. It inspires us to be different and to do better. And what inspires you will inspire others – notably your customers. 

I’ve spent many hours in marketing meetings working with clever-looking diagrams (such as ‘brand pyramids’, ‘brand ladders’ or ‘brand onions’), trying to work out a brand’s purpose. But many of them don’t end up being useful, because they’re so confusing. Surely a much simpler way to find your purpose is to ask that simple question: ‘What p*sses you off?’

Let's look at other companies who have used rage to their advantage
So I already mentioned The Body Shop and Apple, and there's also Abel&Cole (ethical and organic food delivery), Ecotricity (the 100% green electricity provider), ‘’ (a no-junk supplements brand which stands for ‘Total Human Optimization), The Dolce Diet (a clean-eating fitness brand), Tim Ferriss and The Secrets of Accelerated Learning. And take a look at any charity you like, whether it's one that's fighting poverty or one that won't put up with cruelty to animals.

Their rage and what they stand for is easy to spot.

But what if you sell printer cartridges or shipping containers?
No problem, because there’s always a way of doing something better, however seemingly ‘unsexy’ your line of business. You’re the one who knows your business inside out. You will see how you can be unique or different from the competition. You know what is good and what isn’t. When you see services or products done badly, it touches a nerve – a bit like anger acupuncture – and you won't let it go until you have righted that wrong. 

If you and your business are feeling stale, go for some anger acupuncture
Ask yourself: ‘What really p*sses me off right now?'. Get scribbling on a piece of paper. Circle the bits that excite you. Form them into simple paragraph so customers can understand it. Put it on your homepage or ‘About’ page, or in emails, or the words that you use when you talk with your customers.

You’ll have identified and channelled your rage, and you’ll have a more exciting business that you’ll enjoy running and customers will enjoy buying from. If that’s not a reason to get out of bed each morning, I don’t know what is.

Just don’t overdo the rage and end up sitting on the naughty step. My poor wife learned her lesson with that one!

Toodle pip,

Simon | The Chief Apricot |

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