Counter IN 2 A tive

When you take on the challenge and responsibility for marketing, one of the most important lessons is to learn how to think counter intuitively.

What exactly does that mean?

A counter intuitive thinker is seeing things contrary to convention. If everyone is selling ketchup in a bottle right side up, what happens when you invert the bottle on the shelf? Suddenly, your brand is different, it stands out and most importantly, you have a compelling story to share. Ketchup flows best upside down and since a traditional bottle is inverted, why not just design a bottle meant to stand upside down? 

If everyone in your category does things one way, how can you be different? What is the zig to everyone else’s zag?

If there are 4 florist shops in a town, how can you find a meaningful way to do the unconventional, the unexpected and get noticed in the process? 





Think about these six thought starters in considering a counter intuitive approach: 

BE NAÏVE AND IGNORANT: It can be helpful to unlearn your category and pretend you don’t understand the rules. There is nothing like forgetting how everyone does something to find a new path.

MVP – Consider the minimum viable product so you can build/break/learn quickly with a new products.  Eric Ries’ book The Lean Start up stresses the idea that getting a product into the marketplace quickly  (build),  see how it works (break) and gain new insights (learn).

LOTS OF OPTIONS - Do you have enough paths forwards to evaluate or are you seeing only one way? It is hard to challenge a single idea when everything depends on it.  If you have a big decision to make, consider several options at one time. The counter intuitive approach may emerge from blending the best of several ideas into one.

BE AWARE OF THE ANECDOTE:  Patterns are hard to see from a single data point.  You need input from many relevant perspectives to find a fresh path. Something unconventional might not appear with a small sample like a focus group or a few interviews. How can you get the power of crowds giving you richer thinking about a topic?

TELL A DIFFERENT STORY: Change the conversation from what everyone expects. Cirque du Soleil eliminated animals from their circus. FlightCar pays you to park at the airport if they can use your car. Warby Parker gives away a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair you buy.

QUESTION EVERYTHING AND ASSUME NOTHING:  There is so much wisdom in asking why over and over again. Challenging everything gives you a chance to shine a light on a different aspect of a category that others may be ignoring.




The opposite of being counter intuitive is saying… 

“Because that’s how we always did it.”

Ask people who used to work at  Borders, Circuit City or Newsweek how that type of thinking worked out for them.







There is an upside to some of
my marketing ideas
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