(That’s the Montparnasse derailment given a humorous modern context)
Car #6 on the proof train is taking a contrarian stance.
Remember, we’re looking at ways to provide proof to support your marketing claims.
By taking a contrarian stance, you are acting a little bit like a “whistleblower”.
It takes a bad status quo to provoke a whistleblower, and we know that by standing up and saying something, the whistleblower puts themselves at risk.
Unless we have a vested interest in preserving the status quo, it’s almost impossible not to at least respect the whistleblower’s courage or at least listen to their viewpoint. Whether you agree with Edward Snowden’s decision to leak secret US government documents, you can’t help but admire the courage it took to do so.
That’s really what you’re doing when you take a contrarian stance: you’re demonstrating courage. It’s not the specifics of your contrarian stance that serve as proof of your claim, it’s the courage it takes to forcefully articulate them that serve as proof.
Proof that if you believe it enough to stand up and say something that’s different than the rest of the crowd, your claims must be worth listening to.
Proof that if you’re going to make a bold claim that runs counter to conventional wisdom, you must have some evidence to back up your claims.
Proof that if you’re going to risk your reputation to make this claim, you must have discovered something really important.
A couple of clarifications…
Your proof elements should derive from your claim, not the other way around. So in the case of this proof element, I’m not saying to make contrarian claims just so that you can use this proof element.
If you have a claim that is inherently controversial or contrarian, then great! You’ll be naturally using this proof element to support your claim.
If you don’t have an inherently controversial or contrarian claim, then you may still be able to use the idea of a contrarian stance in your marketing. You do this by finding a contrarian angle on your position or claim and use that as the headline or “hook” for an article, conference talk, or other piece of marketing content.
If you take this technique too far, you get the bane of the internet: the clickbait headline.
“Seven common project management errors that will MURDER your next project before it ships. You won’t believe #4!!!”
But used artfully, this same technique creates built-in interest in what you have to say. Here’s a recent example I came across:
“Top 10 Ways to Make Device Drivers Unreliable”
That’s humorous and lightly contrarian while provoking my curiosity to learn more and avoid hidden or unknown risks.
See if you can be that whistleblower who is pointing out a negative status quo in your marketing and trying to improve it in real life with your service offering.
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The next proof element has to do with the weak parts of your claim,