What’s Your Meat Dress?
Imagine this scene with me:
Tonight there are two people at a cocktail party. One is your ideal future client. You’d absolutely flip out if this person hired you. The other is someone who knows you or has heard of you. Your person wants to look cool to the future client person. They aren’t trying to help you. They’re just trying to sound with-it and interesting. Naturally, they’re going to bring you up and tell your future client something short and memorable about you that will instantly make your future client say, “I HAVE to check them out!”
What did they say?…
At the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, American singer Lady Gaga wore an infamous dress made of raw beef, which was commonly referred to by the media as the “meat dress.” The dress was condemned by animal rights groups, and named by Time as the top fashion statement of 2010. People everywhere talked about it. It made them feel something. It made an impression.
The world is full of forgettable businesses trying to look like they fit in with industry peers. The same marketing templates are used, sometimes even the same stock photography and phrases.
Many consumers see more than 3000 ads a day or more. They are busier than ever and their mind is full of their own anxieties and ideas. If you aren’t going to be remarkably different, you’re going to have to pay a LOT to get your brand a large enough footprint in your market’s synapses that people actually remember you and get why they need to take action and buy from you.
“You can’t sell anyone anything, a product, an idea, a company or yourself unless you first get their attention.” – Ken Kragen
Figuring out what your meat dress is going to be involves a deep, non-ego, intuitive process. The reason is, the meat dress isn’t about you, really. It’s about giving a micro story to others that they can share.
You’ve got to get beyond yourself and your hangups and fears about looking a certain way. I’m not recommending you do something that will lose your credibility. But I am recommending you dig in and unearth your own unique voice, your profound differentiators and commit to a journey to finding the highly original catch-phrase or hook-story that people can instantly associate with your brand and grasp the value of what you do. You’ve got to get really comfortable with who you are.
Simon Sinek has become synonymous with “What’s Your Why?” and Mel Robbins with “5-4-3-2-1-GO”. Tim Ferris rocketed to fame with his Four Hour Workweek, a concept that sparked radical thinking for people around the world. The reason most of us don’t have these is that we’re drowning in our own complexity and we think we have to keep 1000 key components as a part of our brand.
It’s important to understand that your ‘meat dress’ isn’t something that you have to ‘wear’ for the rest of your life. It’s not your magnum opus or your legacy. It’s something simple, memorable and impactful that people will feel good about themselves talking about it to others when you aren’t there. It’s the pinnacle of branding – having a memorable essence that people evangelize for you to their networks.
This doesn’t work for self-absorbed brands. Nobody is going to feel motivated to talk about brands that there’s no room for them to identify with. If your public facing messaging is all about how great you are, only your mother is going to want to be associated with that. No one else cares.
Messages go viral when there’s a reason for each individual to talk about you. And the closer you can get to cocktail party-level sharing, the better. It’s not about being cool. It’s about making people feel something transformational. It’s about the stickiness and clarity of your ideas. It’s about raising eyebrows and lovingly making minds tilt a little and corners of mouths tilt upwards. It’s the anti-blending-in.
It’s about them, not you.
You may need to go on a 10-day silent retreat to find your meat dress. You may have to go through a year of therapy or see a shaman to get past your blockages. It requires a bit of becoming untamed. You may have to do something new that lets you get outside of your box enough to breathe and get past your ego and your fears about not blending into the beige world of matching businesses and people.
It takes personal bravery, self-love and a genuine ability to feel your audience at a deep gut level to get to your own Meat Dress message. But figuring it out will be the best time and money you’ll ever spend. You have a purpose on this earth and it’s not to be a carbon copy. You’ve got something incredibly original inside you.
It’s time to find it and share it with the world.