You may not like it – but more often than not – the boldest, most fearless, most offensive people are the most successful.

Take for example Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Larry Ellison, and Donald Trump. They’re all controversial in their own way, yet all extremely successful. I bet every one of them makes more in a day than you do in an entire year.

So what makes these anti-role models so smart? They understand controversy is good for business.

Unless you’re Google or Coca-Cola – huge brands with mainstream products everyone likes – you should be trying to create controversy.

The mega-brands are all about positioning themselves to offend nobody, because they want to sell to everybody. This positioning is only possible with a mega-advertising budget.

It’s kinda like saying “hi” to every passerby on the sidewalk. Hoping they’ll stop what they’re doing and engage in a conversation with you.

Sure, “hi” won’t offend anyone. But it also won’t spark any interesting conversations. Why? Because everyone says hi to passerbys.

Instead of “hello”, try something like “wow, what an ugly sweater”. I guarantee you’ll stop people dead in their tracks. Sure, 80% might be offended, but 20% might think it’s funny or maybe you share a story about how you love ugly sweaters too. Instant connection!

How being controversial can build your company’s brand

The trick is finding the ugly sweater of your industry, or becoming the Britney Spears of your niche.

For 37signals, it’s “to hell with installed software” and “f#c$ venture capital” – both controversial statements in the high-tech software world.

For Britney, it was I’m a hot 18 year old sex symbol not afraid to show it. And then later she evolved her controversy, recording the song You want a piece of me, openly boasting “I’m the oh my god that Britney’s shameless. You want a piece of me? It’s Britney, bitch!”

Britney rode this kind of controversy her entire career, selling over 100 million records and becoming the best-selling female artist of the decade. Remember: tons of people hate her music. Yet she sold 100 million records, laughing all the way to the bank!

So many successful marketers understand these concepts like the back of their hand. If you can internalize this and apply it to your business, you will become the next Britney!  … bitch

PS – This is what I’m talking about. She’s the badass of her niche. The entire video a bold statement hard to ignore. She’s pushing the limits of acceptable behavior. If you like it, you talk about it. If you don’t like it, you still talk about it.