One of the most asked questions that I get from entrepreneurs and businesses owners revolves around how to stand out in a crowded market place.  One answer is that there is a great tactic that I employ that I call the WTF Factor.

The WTF Factor is simply something that makes people stop and go “What the F…?”  It works because there is so much information, products and services out there, that even strong offerings sometimes don’t get noticed, just because of the noise.

Take this bill board sign that I saw recently:

It has a bit of WTF.  The WTF makes people stop and take notice.  Their initial reaction may be confusion, negative, positive, or otherwise, but it almost doesn’t matter.  If you have the credibility to back up your offering, you have at least gotten over the initial hurdle of getting someone’s attention.

I used this strategy for the cover of my bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation.  Some people loved it and some people (including my publisher’s sales team) initially hated it because I didn’t “look like a business author” and that it didn’t look like a “traditional business book” (my response to that can be read here…).  But what I realized was that that was awesome- because it would make people in the bookstores stop and go “WTF?!”  Then, when they picked it up, read the amazing endorsements, the compelling Foreword by Michael Port and my biography, they would be hooked. But if I didn’t have that WTF Factor- if the book looked like every other cover- they might not even stop to take a closer look.

To make the WTF Factor work, it has to be true to who you are and you have to have credibility behind it, or else it appears obnoxious and gimmicky.  It also needs to be unusual relative to the expectations of the customer.  That doesn’t always mean being over the top, provocative or crazy; it could mean being stoic, quiet or something else entirely- as long as it is unexpected in its context.  This could be an unexpected blog headline, product name, packaging- whatever it is that makes people stop for just a second, which is not an easy feat today.

Don’t worry so much about whether someone likes or dislikes what you are doing; just make sure they won’t ignore it!