It Ain't Easy Getting Noticed

When you're in the business of selling ideas (as most of us are in the Information Age), the difference between making big money and just squeaking by depends largely on how good you are at getting people to pay attention to you. Yet it is in this area that some of the most talented people in their fields struggle most. Despite reading countless business books, hiring one agency after another, and jumping on every new PR and marketing trend, far too many intelligent individuals never manage to crack the Holy Grail of buzz building.

I've come to believe that most of these well-meaning businesspeople are looking for answers in all the wrong places. When you follow a popular Internet craze or try to duplicate a recipe outlined by the latest Wall Street Journal bestseller, you're probably already too late. What's more, many of the so-called experts giving advice are more successful at writing books and giving speeches than they ever were at actually building businesses.

For those who care to look, there's a group of people that offer far superior solutions to the puzzle of how to get noticed on a major scale. They typically don't have marketing degrees--in fact, a good number of them didn't even complete school. Yet they manage to generate interest and excitement wherever they go.

These are the Hype Men--the street-smart promoters, masters of propaganda, and con artists that employ their talents in the service of unsavory, immoral, or unconventional aims. Unfortunately, because they often leave such a bad taste in our mouths, we tend to ignore them when engaged in more legitimate enterprises. This is a big mistake.

Take the Best, Leave the Rest

Because promoters, propagandists, and con artists lack legitimacy, they are forced to develop techniques and strategies--often by trial and error--that are persuasive, efficient, and far-reaching. Driven by the need to operate under the radar, they invent ingenious workarounds that are designed to get the biggest results. They are, in essence, the original hackers.

Even if you are the most morally upright human being on the planet, there's a lot to be learned from these denizens of the seedy underbelly of the commercial word. The trick is to selectively borrow those tactics and stunts from history's most effective attention-getters while leaving the unethical parts aside. Is this difficult? Sure it is. Is it worth it? Without a doubt.

To help you achieve this slippery goal, I'll be profiling a number of these unorthodox geniuses over my next batch of articles. I'll be examining what makes them so effective and how you can apply their techniques without losing your soul in the process.

You'll hear stories of behind-the-scenes svengalis who turned nobodies into superstars, obscure crackpots who got millions to buy into their ideas, and unknowns who garnered around-the-clock media attention without spending a penny.

Stay tuned...it's gonna be a fun ride!

Published on: Mar 31, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.