Dare to Be Stupid: A lesson for B2B marketers from Weird Al

Weird Al
By James Hahn II, {grow} Community Member

July 15th, 2014 will forever live in infamy. That is the day Weird Al Yankovic debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 for the first time.

His parodies of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and Pharell Williams’ “Happy” were immediate hits. One of my favorites that flew under the radar was “Mission Statement”, in which he TOTALLY EVISCERATED CORPORATE CULTURE! (Sorry … forgot I wasn’t writing for HuffPo)

While the song is chock-full of cringe-worthy corporate jargon, one thing it does not contain is this oft-repeated, absolutely absurd phrase:

“That will never work in my business.”

The B2B Myth that Will Never Die

Every decade for as long as I’ve been alive, Weird Al has been relevant. And every decade since I’ve been alive, a new technology has entered the marketplace to shrieks of terror from business owners. Much like Weird Al’s career, this “woe is me” attitude towards new technology never seems to die.

In the 1980’s, business owners and employees were forced against their will to learn how to operate a personal computer. “This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life,” said my top-10% salesman Dad. As far as he was concerned, nothing would ever beat running your entire business in a spreadsheet.

Maybe we could all take a lesson from Weird Al and, as the title of his 1985 album suggests, “Dare to Be Stupid.” This comes, after all, from a guy who has made a successful career out of embracing (and then satirizing) changing pop culture for decades. Something that seems outlandish or even “stupid” now may have the power to revolutionize your business, but you’ll miss it if you don’t have an open mind.

Today, I work in the oil and gas industry. This is sadly (and astonishingly) still the case with no small number of geoscientists. In fact, we still get people that ask, “Do I really need website?” Take a moment and let that sink-in. They don’t ask if they need a good website, some people in oil and gas still question if they even need a website.

As you can see, the oil industry is filled with technological laggards. 50% of the industry is retiring in the next 5 years, also known as “The Great Crew Change,” and the industry is just beginning to realize there might be something to this “whole internet thing.” But I suspect my vertical is not the only one.

Content Shock vs. Content Saturation Index

Mark Schaefer has written and spoken extensively about Content Shock over the past year. It’s true — the economic implication of increasing content density is a clear and present danger to content marketers in many industries.

However, for every industry or niche that is up against a catastrophic content flood, there are at least a half-dozen more that are still waiting to be conquered.

Marcus Sheridan calls this the “Content Saturation Index” (CSI). The CSI rule states, “The more content an industry/niche has written about it, the harder it is for a blog to make headway and find success in that field.”

What we’re dealing with here is a simple supply and demand issue. When supply is low and demand is high, virtually anyone can dominate the space. When the inverse is true, it’s almost impossible to rise to the top.

The problem is most B2B marketers assume their industry is already flooded with content. But here’s the thing, there is still low hanging fruit in overloaded industries. Even digital marketing has longtail keywords that are yours for the taking.

If that’s true for digital marketing, could it be true for your industry?

Nice Try, Einstein

Albert Einstein is widely seen as one of the most intelligent men to ever walk the earth. After all, the guy came up with an answer for the age-old question, “Why is the sky blue?” (Evidently because of critical opalescence and because Rayleigh scattering is quantitative, but I have no idea what that means.)

But even Einstein was wrong about something that is remarkably common today:

“There is not the slightest indication that (nuclear energy) will ever be obtainable. That would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.” — Albert Einstein, 1932

True to form, it took a Hahn to prove Einstein wrong. In 1938, Otto Hahn successfully split the atom for the first time. Today, nuclear power plants provide over 12% of the world’s energy.

From this we can draw two lessons.

First, don’t listen to Einstein. That guy didn’t have a clue. Second, don’t listen to that voice inside trying to convince you something won’t work in your business. Maybe it’s just time to try something “stupid” that you’ve overlooked.

“There is nothing impossible to him who will try.” – Alexander the Great  

What do you think? Are too many B2B marketers throwing in the towel before they even get started? How do you overcome “the resistance” when it tells you something is impossible? Please leave a comment below!

James Hahn II Founder, Tribe RocketJames Hahn II is the founder of Tribe Rocket, a digital marketing consultancy specializing in the oil and gas industry. Follow him on Twitter @JamesHahnII or LinkedIn.

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