The passing of Michael Jackson seem to overshadow everything and several days later the buzz is still going. How can this event overshadow so many others?

I caught an early morning news program covering both Jackson and Fawcett and their passing. The interesting thing I noted was the amount of coverage for Jackson versus Fawcett. While both were famous stars and both had provided a great deal to the entertainment business, it was a 5:1 ratio in favor of Jackson!

While Farrah was ill and her death not unexpected, Jackson's was sudden and unexpected. But is that enough to cause the massive frenzy over Jackson? By the way, Ed Macman had passed only a couple of days before and had one day with a few news spots. Was Ed not as huge a figure in the media as both Michael and Farrah?

I have a theory as to why the skewed ratio and it can make a huge difference in your sales and influence efforts.

Farrah was a good actor, very attractive and driven. She had a great career and created a great following. The controversy around Farrah occurred on occasion, but was short lived. Her cancer battle probably brought more attention to more people than any other time in her life. Ask someone about Farrah and you generally received very positive comments.

Ed was a great straight man for Johnny Carson and did plenty of advertising pitches as well. Many charitable activities carried his name and he probably gave far more than he received. Ask what people thought of Ed Macman and you revised a great many positive comments.

Now for Michael, a fantastic talent from an early age; a fantastic contribution of music (some I even like) for generations to enjoy. Now ask about Michael Jackson and you'll get very opposite comments! These comments range from "he is the best" to "weirdo"! In other words a very polarized response! It seems you either love him or hate him.

Now here is the interesting point. Whether you loved him or hated him, you still knew who he was and had an opinion about him. You talked about him and listened to the news about him, if for no other reason to see what the "weirdo" was up to. The media loved him either way!

So either way, love or hate, Michael Jackson could influence you and get you talking about him!

Great Harlan, but I do not want to have people talking about me in a negative way. I certainly do not want comments I've heard about Michael Jackson being said about me!

Yes, that is a common response and is true for most people. But, we also do not want to miss the point and the power of polarizing.

Here is the reality we live in. At any given time there is 20% of the market open to what you are offering and ready to do something about it. The rest are not in the position for a variety of reasons, and will not be taking any action despite your best efforts. They may be ready to take action later as their situation changes.

The paradigm of marketing in the past has been stated as "It's who you known that counts." and there is a great deal of truth to the paradigm. The newer view is "It's who knows you that counts." This means you may not know this potential customer today, but because they know of you, when they are ready to take action, they call you!

Polarizing can create that following or awareness of who you are and what you stand for.

Another reality, not everyone is going to buy from you or agree with you, no matter what! Everyone knows about Pepsi and Coca Cola brands, yet there are many that will only drink their brand and not buy the other, even if there is no other choice. They are polarized and become fanatical fans if you will. They have bought into the values and message of either Pepsi or Coca Cola. What if you had these types of customers?

If you read the letters to the editor section of the paper you will find some you agree with totally, others you are luke warm on and others you are totally in disagreement with. In other words, you are polarized!
The thing is, you talk about both, the one you totally agree with and the one you disagree with! You advertise for both of them! You are aware of both of them! The luke warm one gets no discussion.

So does this mean you and I do crazy things like Michael Jackson? No, it does not.
What it really means is knowing and understanding your values and beliefs and be willing to express them to others. Note, I said express them, not push them on to others.

Those that agree with you values and views will join and follow you; those that disagree will still remember you and talk about you.
An interesting note: Many of those that disagree with you may still buy from you, because they appreciate that person who takes a stand. It builds trust in their mind even though they disagree.

To help clarify, here are some possible polarizing examples.
Republican or Democrate
Younger or older
Cutting edge or It still works
Fast Change or Slow Change
Instant Gratification or Delayed Gratification
High Leverage or No Leverage

The real power comes when a person buys into a strong position or belief. This creates a passion and they now become your salesperson!

When you discover a person being polarized on an issue, it can become extremely powerful if your product aligns with their thinking. But, avoid compromising your values and beliefs, they will see through it.

A quick summary:
1. Only a small portion of your market is going to buy today; the rest some other day, maybe.
2. Not everyone will agree with you or buy from you, accept it, get over it.
3. Focus on those that align with you and provide them reasons to become fanatical about you.
4. Do those things that get your name, values and positions out to the public, it's better than paid advertising.
5. Discover others beliefs and values, then help them see how you/product/service align or oppose that view.

Ed and Farrah had great careers and are well known, but Michael Jackson will be idolized for decades because he polarized people.

Author's Bio: 

International sales expert, Harlan Goerger has 25 years leading companies to explosive growth. Author of The Sales Gap, Harlans strategies generate s sales growth to levels as high as 400%. His innovated strategies empower professionals with practical, effective techniques.