Should you swear in your marketing?

swear word
Swearing written on a speechbubble

There’s been a bit surge in the last few years with people incorporating swearing into their marketing and their book titles. There’s The subtle art of not giving a f#ck” by Mark Manson, Go the f#ck to sleep by Adam Mansbach and The life-changing art of not giving a f#ck by Sarah Knight. It does seem to be a growing trend.

The question we should be asking ourselves is, “Why is this being done and is it something I should emulate?”

Swearing in your marketing might seem like the logical conclusion to make, but it’s not always the right move. Here are five things to consider before deciding to use swearing in your marketing:

1. The pattern interrupt

Imagine you’re in a state of mindless scrolling on Facebook or Instagram and then BAM! A loud, noisy siren goes off and it’s the loudest sound you’ve ever heard in your life. You look up. You’d be in shock and you’d be wondering what the heck is going on. All of a sudden, you’re paying attention to something other than what’s going on right in front of you.

This is a classic example of a pattern interrupt. It changes your focus and can change your state. Using a pattern interrupt can be an effective way of getting attention in the short term, yet, if everyone is doing it, it becomes “normal” and people ignore it.

2. Polarisation

Polarisation is defined as the division into two sharply contrasting groups or sets of opinions or beliefs and this is something you can use on social media. For instance, many don’t mind the full use of “BS” and others don’t mind the “F” word. Others, yet, find it terribly offensive and hate it. Others think it’s the best thing on the planet when someone drops an “F bomb”.

The trick with using swearing as a polarisation tactic is this: if you don’t “normally” swear and if you feel uncomfortable doing it, then don’t do it! Authenticity rules the world.

3. Is it reflective of your values?

Some people have very strong opinions about swearing and if yours is that it shouldn’t be done, don’t bow to the perceived pressure to include swearing. It will land the wrong way and you’ll end up looking silly rather than looking like an expert.

4. Own it

If you’re going to swear, you need to own it. This means using the words that you’re going to use with volition and intention. With purpose. It could be to instigate the use of polarisation and as a pattern interrupt, which is excellent. Don’t ever apologise for the language you use if it’s done with intention and authenticity.

5. Swearing will be THE reason some people buy and the very reason some don’t

Time and time again I have been told that people have bought from me because I have included swearing in titles of programs, in emails and in posts online. My clients have experienced this and I have seen my peers do this over and over again as well. Yes, it will turn some people off but others will love you even more because of it.

The bottom line is this: if you swear in your “normal” everyday life and with your clients, then consider using swearing strategically in your marketing. If not, then don’t.

Nicola Moras, social media and visibility expert and author of “Visible”, a guide for business owners on how to generate financial results from social media and digital marketing