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Biz Owners: Are you sitting on top of your next Surprise Hit? (Aka: How to give your customers EXACTLY what they secretly want.)

OMG. You guys.

Have you watched Empire??

This new FOX drama is my EVERYTHING.

It’s a sexy, ridiculous soap opera about a hip hop mogul and his family — a ferocious ex-wife named Cookie who was just released from prison (best character EVER) and his three sons battling for control of the family empire.

Every episode is filled with lust, envy, greed and SICK hip hop music numbers that you can stream or download afterwards (don’t think I haven’t downloaded EVERY SINGLE ONE).

The show is an unexpected MASSIVE success. A total Surprise Hit.

All of Hollywood is abuzz trying to pick apart exactly what is making Empire the hottest show of the moment.

(My personal guess? COOKIE. COOKIE FOREVER. They all just need to cast COOKIE in every show ever made ever. Obviously.)

My all-encompassing obsession over this show has got me thinking:

How can we learn from Empire’s surprising success?

What are they key lessons here for biz owners, service providers, and product / content creators?

I’ve got a few ideas.

It’s time to take a cue from the makers of Empire (… and a few other notable “break out” productions.)

Here’s my take on how to create your very own Surprise Hit:

– Dont be afraid of ridiculousness. Go for: so wrong, its right.

Critics everywhere wrinkled their noses about Fifty Shades of Grey. High-minded literary thinkers called it “smut” and “trash.”

YET… these books are a billion dollar empire with raging, addicted fans who are forking over cash for the books and ALL of the related products (Fifty Shades teddy bear, anyone?) soooo…someone’s doing something right.

The producers of Empire absolutely understand the “so wrong, it’s right” effect. From butt flashes to face slaps to that OMG moment at the end of every episode, audiences are always treated to TOTAL ridiculousness. And they EAT IT UP.

How could you bring some over-the-top ridiculousness into your business?

Whats your personal version of an OMG moment?

Bring it. Your audience will love it.

– Bring back the classics that people know and love.

The producers of Empire are reviving the prime-time soap drama (Dynasty, Dallas Falcon Crest, remember those?!)

And as much as people roll their eyes about “soaps,” the show’s co-creator Lee Daniels missed Dynasty and suspected that other people did, too. So did star Taraji P. Henson (aka: Cookie. Yes I will mention her a bajillion times).

So they brought the soapy drama back. And IT WORKED.

Is there something in your industry that people are so overbut you wholeheartedly miss and still believe in?

Suspect that other people miss it, too?

Revive it.

– Take a strong stance. Break taboos. GO there.

On Empire, one of the central characters is a black, gay hip hop singer, which creates tension between him and his conservative father — a taboo subject that creator Lee Daniels says is a conscious effort to confront homophobia in the black community.”

So often, in life and business, we want to take a stand. Share an opinion. Break a taboo. Just…GO there. But we are so afraid that others will judge us or we’ll lose clients or readers.

But know this: when you take a STRONG stance on a topic, your content becomes notable, memorable, and charged with energy.

You might be “turning off” certain people, in the short term, but in the long term? You’re going to create a supercharged fan base of people who are obsessed with you. (Fans who feel like you “get” them unlike anyone else.)

Do you have an “unpopular,” “controversial” or “shocking” opinion when it comes to your work, or your industry?

Is there something youre secretly longing to say out loud?

Say it. Take a stand. Haters to the left.

– Dont wait for permission. Create your own stage.

So you tried to get a book deal but all the publishers said “no, thanks”?

Or maybe that “elite business mentor” told you that your “so wrong, it’s right” product idea was deep-fried dumb with a side of lame-sauce?

WHAT the frack EVER.

If you believe in something, create and launch it anyway. You don’t need anybody’s permission.

Worst case scenario? You’re going to have tons of fun producing it.

Best case scenario? You’ll have a Surprise Hit on your hands.

Case in point: the producers of Empire tried to get their show slotted into a coveted Fall TV premiere slot (typically considered to be the “best” placement for new shows). But the network said “no” and scheduled Empire for a “still pretty good, but significantly less desirable” Midseason premiere slot.

Guess what? Despite getting shuffled into Midseason, Empire still CRUSHED the other shows on the schedule. It knocked all of the Fall premieres off the charts.

Further proof that you DON’T need to rely on “experts” or “decision makers” to give you the green light. This is your game. You make the rules.

If no one’s inviting you into the spotlight? Create your own stage!

Like when my friend Susan decided to stop waiting for a “big TV deal”and produce her own damn show. (Maria Shriver’s peeps loved it so much they decided to syndicate it on their site.)

Ditto for my friend Shenee (her webTV series ROCKS and has only made her fans LOVE her even more than they ever thought possible).

Feeling bummed because certain people dont believe in your projects, or wont give you the book deal / funding / approval / stamp of validation you think you need?

Screw em. Forge ahead on your own.

Theyll be sobbing with regret while youre laughing all the way to the bank.

Your key takeaways from this piece:

WATCH EMPIRE. (It will change your life.)

Then:

– Unleash your next product or service into the world!

Be bold. Be brazen. Be ridiculous. Break every taboo. Revive a beloved classic. Give your business audience a “guilty pleasure” experience that they’ll flip for. Give your customers exactly what they want. No shame. No waiting for approval. No holding back.

You never know.

You just might have a Surprise Hit on your hands. 🙂

How to give your customers exactly what they secretly want.. #onlinebusiness #entrepreneurship #marketingtips #melissacassera