Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Is Being "Contrary" A Good Thing?

To be "Contrary" is to disagree or to have a minority view. To be "contrarian" is to go against the conventional wisdom. So the question is, is being "contrary" or a "contrarian" a good thing? You would have to think so in light of what you see and hear from the media. There is a contrarian economist, chef, publisher, financial advisor. There are contrarian travelers (who discuss why less popular routes may be the best), a progressive rock group called "Contrarian," contrarian diet experts, and others who simply have a different view of things.

I wonder why being contrian is so attractive and I wonder if such a thing translates well in other cultures. On the latter, I really doubt it. I spent some time online and virtually every reference of the two million plus on "contrarian" refer to the United States. Here are a few reasons why being a contrarian might sell:
  • I think there is a certain amount of suspicion towards popular or majority thinking. So many can't be right.

  • There are those who believe that the media is the primary driver of conventional wisdom, and we all know what most people think about the media. The media elite has become increasinly less trusted in recent decades because it is simply unaware of that which it writes and speaks in the minds of most.

  • Question authority. Convential wisdom speaks of authority. To have a contrarian view is to question the collective authority of the many. I really think people love to do that.

  • Out of the box. Often, contrarian thinking is attractive because it has people thinking "out of the box." It is the means of finding the answer through unconventional means.

Regardless of the reasons why contrarian thinking is hot, it clearly is and has been for years. Furthermore, it might makes sense for the business person who is trying to differentiate him or herself to get themselves out there as the contrarian in their fields.

For a copy of the free report, "Why Your Marketing Isn't Working," email Info@HoustonBusinessShow.com and put "marketing" in the subject line.

Kevin Price is Host of the Houston Business Show (M-F at 11 AM on CNN 650) and Publisher of the Houston Business Review. Hear the show live and online at HoustonBusinessShow.com. Visit the archive of past shows here.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post, Kevin. I've been doing a lot of research into the Houston business media as our firm plans to expand to the city this year, and you come up time and time again as THE expert on local business.

You know, I think to be contrary is an essential element of an entrepreneur or an innovator. To pursue a new idea when everyone says it can't be done is the call of duty for many small business owners.

Our company has turned an idea that everyone said would fail -- agency-style marketing in a retail setting -- into a nationwide success. It would have been so easy to stick with what worked...and I'm so glad we didn't.

I look forward to getting to know Houston and to following your shows & blogs. Best wishes!

2:47 PM  

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