What If You’re Wrong?

By Jamie McSloy / October 12, 2017
what if you're wrong featured image

Here’s a little thought experiment you can work into your thinking. You can also use it for business purposes and even craft marketing campaigns around it.

Take something you’re passionate about, a hobby or something that’s otherwise embedded into your identity.

This might be:

  • Support for a political objective
  • You exercise to attract the opposite sex
  • That having social media profiles is a waste of time/best thing ever

Here’s the simple thought experiment: Assume you’re wrong.

What if the position you hold is completely wrong? What would you do?

Would the World Change?

Most people, when challenged on something they hold near and dear to their heart, are going to reject any arguments to the contrary. It’s how our identities are formed and what keeps us mentally aligned with our place in the world.

Assuming you’re willing to do the experiment though, you might find the results are surprising when it comes to how you deal with stuff.

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Now, here’s where the experiment gets interesting.

Let’s take the first one. Politics is my least favourite subject, and here’s why.

People identify massively with their political choices. I believe this to be the wrong thing to do.

Why?

If you say, “OK, I support Trump/Hillary/Conservatives/Socialism… But what if I’m wrong?”

Assume your politics are wrong. If you’re a conservative, imagine that it turned out more socialism was great. Vice versa.

What changes about your life? Probably nothing. Politics doesn’t affect people on a day-to-day basis. Unless you’re completely invested in it. Like, some people actually believe the government is tracking them because they posted a Pepe the Frog meme or whatever. Some people blame the fact they tripped over on the way to work on feminism or the patriarchy or whatever.

Chances are, if you’re one of those people, you’ve lost friends, acquaintances and business over your views.

For the rest of us, politics and those big things don’t make as much of a difference as you’d think.

Would You Quit And Do Something Else?

Let’s take the second example. Working out for the sake of the guys/girls.

If it turned out that girls didn’t like big muscles or guys didn’t like slim girls… would that stop you from working out?

Hopefully not.

Exercise is healthy and will lead to you bettering your life in many ways. Even if you attracted precisely zero new dating options, you’d want to keep exercising and doing the same thing.

Even if you’re wrong.

This brings us to the real topic of discussion.

What Does This Have To Do With Business And Copywriting?

Firstly, I’ve maintained for years that politics rarely has anything to do with business stuff and should be kept out of your branding strategy if you can help it at all.

But here’s where there’s real power in the thought experiment:

Most business people aren’t going to take their product or service and assume the premise is wrong. This is why you get generic advertising like, “Our detergent is 37% more effective than a competitor brand.”

Nobody really remembers adverts like that because the hook is weak. “We’re slightly better than the competition.”

So when it comes to finding a big idea or a unique angle for a product you’re creating or promoting, it can be good to start from the opposite viewpoint to where everyone else is starting.

It’s also a good position when it comes to giving advice and providing a solution.

Take the financial newsletter market for instance. We’ve all seen the sales copy for those adverts.

This Coming Financial Crash Will Wipe Out 90% Of America’s Wealth. Here’s How To Survive!

Now, those sales letters sell very well, because they’re appealing to fear, greed and all the other deadly sins.

The problem they have in terms of general perception of the market is that everyone thinks it’s a scam. If you’ve seen one ad that says, “This July, we’re going to get wiped out!” then you’ve seen them all and you know they’re rubbish.

(Unless the world ends every week. To the particularly gullible in the survival market, this is true.)

If you wanted to sell a newsletter to the 99% of people who see the ad above and you don’t know where to start…

Assume the position is wrong. The world isn’t going to end this July. The financial crash isn’t coming any time soon. The government won’t ban gold and a few lucky patriots aren’t going to survive by making that one investment.

How do you sell a financial doom and gloom newsletter when the above things aren’t true? Why would someone buy an investment knowing that the world wasn’t going to end?

… You’d sell it just like that. Assume the world is going to keep getting better. Why would someone want a list of investments to make if the world is going to get better?

Because they’ll make a ton of money.

You can even use the same deadly sins and dastardly sales tricks. Except it’s the fear of losing out and the greed of shoving it in your neighbour’s face with the new Ferrari.

You’re just hitting a business from an entirely different angle.

Finally… The Advice You Give

Here’s the real measure of any advice you give people: Does it work?

If you’re giving someone advice, you (hopefully) want the advice to help the person out.

Often, the advice we give is based on our own experience, knowledge and opinion. As such, we attract like minds and people who are similar to ourselves. That’s natural.

When you give advice that’ll work for a totally different mind and from a totally different walk of life, you know that the advice is good advice.

If you’re planning on building authority, achieving great things or building a lasting business, then you can do a lot worse than by trying to universalise your information.

That’s not to say, “Don’t pick an audience” because you should target the information to a certain audience.

But test the advice you’re giving. Will it work for everyone? If you are wrong about your opinions, experiences and knowledge then does the advice still take a hypothetical person from Point A to Point B successfully?

If it does, its great advice and you might get a crossover audience in time.

The way to find out is to simply ask yourself, “If I’m wrong, what will happen?”

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