New Business Ideas: Alienate people

We once went into a meeting with someone who had gotten hold of some market research data from Ocean Spray. She said that they had tested guava as a flavor and decided that the name evoked negative images for people. We looked at each other and said, ‘OK, we’re making it.’ Now it’s one of our top sellers.

Tom Scott, founder of Nantucket Nectars (via Upstart Start-Ups!)

Tom Scott shares a great piece of wisdom on where to find new ideas. Start looking for stuff that the mainstream doesn’t like. You can find a gold mine.

Look at things like hot sauce. Oysters. Malört.

That’s what most people look like drinking Malört.

Me? I love the stuff. We drank a bunch of Malört at the Obama campaign. Most did it just to say they tried such a terrible thing once in their life. But a couple of us did it because we love bitter drinks. (There’s another great bitter liqueur, Cynar. I like shaking some of that up with an entire raw egg. It’s delicious.)

That’s how many things are. There’s some things people really don’t like. But then you’ll find some super fans of that same thing.

Study mainstream America. Observe mainstream marketing. Then think about the exact opposite.

Look at extroverts. Facebook has tapped into the fact that the mainstream likes to share every god damn piece of their lives with the entire world. Most people are extroverts or at least try very hard to emulate extroverts.

Introverts are very underserved.

There’s a company I like to follow, Pinboard, whose founder, Maciej Cegłowski, realized this. So he created a bookmarking application that’s got great privacy controls. He’s doing very well. Their motto?

Social Bookmarking for Introverts

Look at my last blog post. It was a little different than previous posts. I made it super long, brought up a few different theses instead of a single point, and asked a controversial question I didn’t answer directly. What happened?

Some folks hated it. I couldn’t believe some of the vitriol and snarkiness I got in comments related to it.

But the funny part was, much more than usual, I got emails, and comments from friends telling me how much they enjoyed it. How much it inspired them. I was very surprised.

I didn’t even know some of these friends even read my blog.

But for some reason this piece of prose of mine that somehow made some people pissed or uncomfortable, provoked others to reach out and mention how much they liked it.

Try to make something everyone likes, and you’ll end up with something no one does.

So, need a new business idea? Look at mainstream tastes. What does everyone typically like. Then think about the exact opposite. Those folks are very underserved. You’ll probably be able to find at least 1,000 super fans. Make them happy. You’ll have customers for life.

P.S. You should get my next post on Twitter: here.


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