How to Spread Your Ideas Like Wildfire
If you’re a writer, an artist, or an entrepreneur, you know you need attention.
But how do you get it? Our culture today offers a dizzying amount of choices to fill our days. You can be productive or burn time doing something silly. You can read or check your social media stats.
Don’t even get me started on email.
Honestly, if your email inbox looks like most people’s, it’s ringing with new messages every hour. You probably don’t remember how many email lists you’ve subscribed to. And even then, you probably don’t read 10% of the ones you still get.
We skim and scan because we’ve cluttered our lives with too much junk.
It’s a Herculean challenge to be seen and heard by the Masses. Or even by your friends.
Three Hurdles That Keep Your Ideas Hidden
You’re doing it yourself.
We’re all on a budget.
If your finances are limited, you’ll try to fix the sink or the car yourself before you call in a professional. Be careful, though. If you break something, that professional visit may cost twice as much.
When you toot your own horn, you might find that nobody cares. That’s disappointing. So maybe you try it again to see if anyone bites.
The trouble is the more you repeat something people don’t care about, the more your words taste like spam.
Why not add a little more spice next time? Or maybe you need to serve a better dish.
You’re interrupting people.
You don’t want to answer a survey while your eating dinner.
You don’t want to buy Girl Scout cookies when you’re on a diet. (Or maybe you do.)
You don’t want to buy life insurance when you feel like you’ll live forever.
Buying ads is often buying an interruption. If you’re going to do it, make it worth people’s valuable time.
We’ll talk more about this in a moment.
You’re telling the wrong people.
If your best friend is the shyest person around, anything you tell her is a secret.
This is great when you don’t want information to spread.
Sometimes you need to vent without telling the world. Sometimes you need someone to listen without judging. Other times, you need a shoulder to cry on.
Those are the best secrets to keep.
In this post, we’ll look at the secrets that beg to be told.
If you want to stand out, do something different.
Yesterday I left work earlier than usual.
Traffic was unbelievably horrible.
Every road leaving the office had a line of cars. This was made worse by a stationary train blocking the road — at “rush” hour.
It makes you wonder what the qualifications for train scheduling are.
When you’re in a crowd of cars, you won’t stand out by driving a Ford or a Honda. You need a convertible or a Harley to turn people’s heads. If traffic is moving, you’ve got to drive faster or slower to be seen.
An extreme way to get noticed is to have a wreck or get a cop to pull you over.
Infamy can get you attention, but it may not be the kind you want.
With a million choices, we see a lot like frogs. It’s generally accepted that they can’t see flies unless they’re moving. This isn’t totally true, but here’s the point.
If you drive to work the same way every day, you miss things you pass every day. Even in my own front yard, I missed the fact that there are four houses across the street because two of them are partially covered by trees. It’s only when I take a momentary glance off the path that I see the hidden things.
We’re so busy we don’t notice what's ordinary. If it’s not loud or threatening, it doesn’t exist. If it’s not standing in our path, we pass by without a second thought.
This is the idea behind interruption marketing. During a TV show, you have a captive audience. If your commercial is first after a commercial break, you’ve got a shot at being heard. And then you’ll have to arrest us to keep us from going to the bathroom or grabbing a drink from the kitchen.
College students at football games do this by buying front row seats. Then they do wild stuff like go half naked and paint their bodies the school colors. Or they’ll line up and hold signs that spell out a team cheer.
Camera operators love this because it adds color to a low moment in the game. Or maybe it enhances the excitement the crowd already feels. If the team is losing, their sullen looks betray their flamboyant outfits.
That’s something we love to look at, too.
It’s like seeing an accident on the highway. I dare you not to look!
The Internet is the same kind of world.
Anyone can publish anything at any time. It’s not enough to just write about the same things others are. If you want people you don’t know to read your work, you’ve got to be a little audacious.
Take a stand. Make bold assertions. Say something that scares you a little (or a lot). And always make sure it leaves your reader better than you found her.
Tell your ideas to a Gossip.
There’s a chatty person in every group.
Facebook is the social media version of the Gossip. The difference is everyone has a chance to wear the Gossip’s hat.
Here’s the exotic dinner I had last night. You should have been there!
Here’s what my fabulous vacation looks like. Aren’t you jealous?
This is the awesome promotion I just got at work. Don’t you want to be like me?
Your real friends will be happy for you. Some may want to know your secrets. But most people just won’t care.
They want to know how to make their own dreams come true.
Help them with that and you’ll have influence.
If you tell a chatty friend your secret, your ideas can reach more people than you ever could with ads, status updates, or constant pleas to your friends.
Seth Godin calls these people Sneezers. They’re the ones with huge networks. They’re charming. People listen to them.
And if you can get some of them to talk about you, you can spread your ideas spam-free.
You can say anything you want about yourself. We might believe it, but we’ll probably write it off as fluff. That’s why testimonials are so effective. When a Gossip shares your secret, it’s tantalizing. It’s like we get to see behind the curtain. When you know something you aren’t supposed to know, you feel powerful.
So here’s the pitch you can make to your favorite Gossip.
“Can you keep a secret?”
Of course not. The Gossip can’t wait to spill the same pitch to everyone she knows.
“This is in the strictest confidence…”
This works when you want to leak something extraordinary. A big breakthrough. A remarkable solution. The secret that solves a big problem for a lot of people.
The key here is that chatty people can reach far more people than you ever can. They know people you don’t know. Those people know other people. And if the message is compelling, people will pass it to the ends of the Earth.
If you want to change the world, find some Gossips to spread the word.
Let’s say you want to attack writer’s block.
You’ve tried all the solutions people have shared. Can you offer a new one?
Or better still, can you offer a better story?
Let’s say you hit a creative wall and got a concussion. It kept your pen still for weeks, months, maybe even years. Should you even try lifting it again? Will your words inspire sleep or could they change the culture?
The best way to find your own breakthrough is to Experiment.
You never know if conventional wisdom is wise until you test it. You don’t know if the door of opportunity will open for you until you knock on it. You won’t know if your words will change anyone’s life until you share them.
Be willing to fail.
Learn from what you experience.
Do it until your results seem like laws.
Theories are launch pads. You can test the law of gravity by dropping something. Build on that and you can make your concept aircraft fly with ease.
When you win, give your secret to a Gossip.
And make sure they point back to you.
Ready to Launch?
None of these strategies will cost you much.
You have time.
You have some money.
And your brain is a lot more creative than you might imagine.
Your message can change someone’s life. Will you do the work to stand out, get noticed, and get people talking?
If you do, your investment will pay you back exponentially.