Marketer Quite Contrary: The Importance of Contrarian Thinking in Marketing

Margo Jay
7 min readApr 22, 2021

There’s a certain comfort for us in consensus. If everyone agrees something is a good idea, then it must be a good idea, right?

This thinking is often quite pervasive in marketing circles, even if we don’t recognize it right away. We can see it in so many different forms: when we ask for numbers, when we say “this is how we’ve always done things,” or even “we do this because it works.”

But recently, there’s been some rethinking of status quos and consensus. After all, a desire for consensus is what gives rise to the phenomenon of groupthink. That’s when we end up sitting in an echo chamber, nodding our heads and agreeing because we don’t want to rock the boat. It leads us to this, “What were they thinking?!” moments that seem so obvious to our customers and outside observers.

There’s a concept that’s common in finance called “ contrarian thinking.” As it turns out, it could have a lot of use for us as Marketers.

Bucking Trends and Going Our Own Ways

So, what is contrarian thinking? In essence, it’s deciding that just because everyone thinks something is a good idea, we’re not going to do it.

Now, that’s often a difficult position to take. It’s especially tough when we’re in board rooms with higher ups who are set in their ways or want to point to the numbers.

Consensus isn’t necessarily wrong, and numbers don’t necessarily lie. Content marketing might work. The numbers might prove SEO is super important to our new digital strategies. People may agree that digital marketing is the best way forward, or that there’s a particular way to “do” SEO so we achieve results.

After all, there’s an algorithm, and it works in a particular way. If you plug in all the right factors, you achieve results. Simple, right?

But here’s the problem. Even when something does work-like, say, SEO and Google’s algorithm- everyone else is doing the same thing.

That’s a problem for Marketers. We all design our ads the same way, because the numbers say this type of ad gets the most engagement. We all do SEO the same way, so we’re all neck-in-neck for the top spot on Google.

Contrarian thinking asks us to ditch the consensus to do things differently. It’s thinking outside the box, it’s taking risks, and it definitely…



Margo Jay

Marketing & Brand Expert | Customer Empath | Master Strategist | Deeper Insight | Finding extraordinary value | Driving competitive advantage |