Sign-up to Dave's essays

A Powerful Way to Uncover Contrarian Strategies

Written by Dave Bailey

Startup workers embrace contrarian strategies

When it comes to strategy, logic isn’t always your friend. Since most of your competitors have access to similar information, if they all followed the most logical argument, they’d all end up with products so similar customers would find it hard to differentiate between them.

Luckily, as Rory Sutherland points out in his book, Alchemy: The Surprising Power of Ideas That Don’t Make Sense, the opposite of a good idea is often another good idea.

Here are a few examples from his book, and a few others I’ve noted over the years.

What’s the right messaging for your product?

  • Not many people have this, so it must be good.
    or
  • Everyone has this, so it must be good.

How can you improve your sales copy?

  • Make it much longer; that way it’s reassuringly detailed.
    or
  • Make it much shorter; that way its brevity proves it’s a no-brainer.

How can you increase sales?

  • Raise the price, so it’s reassuringly expensive.
    or
  • Reduce the price, so it’s an amazing deal.

How do you onboard a new employee?

  • Provide a lot of information to help them settle in.
    or
  • Provide very little information and tell them to go find it for themselves so they can learn as they go.

How do you increase results?

  • Implement practices that everyone’s doing, i.e., best practice.
    or
  • Implement practices that no-one’s doing, i.e., differentiators.

How do you increase sign-ups?

  • Make sign-up quick and easy.
    or
  • Require prospects to apply or enter a waiting list.

If you look closely, there’s a common theme: avoid being somewhere in the middle. Half-measures are almost always a bad strategy.

 

Originally published Mar 29, 2021, last updated Jun 1, 2021

psychology

About Dave Bailey

Hi, I’m Dave Bailey and I coach tech CEOs from Series A to pre-IPO. Join 20,000 entrepreneurs who receive my new essay every week. 

I will never sell your information, for any reason.

Trending essays

How to Use Nonviolent Communication at Work

All my biggest regrets as a founder are around not having difficult conversations sooner...

How to Coach Your Team and Get The Result You Want

If you’ve found it difficult to get the results you want from other people, try this simple technique...

How to Drive a Culture of Ownership

Do you wish your team took more ownership? Here’s how to trust them to get the job done without you...

10 Communication Techniques Used by Great Leaders

Whether you’re leading a meeting, a team, or a company, your ability to communicate can set you apart...

How to Ask Your Team The Right Questions

To improve your ability to ask great questions, it helps to understand the types of questions you can ask...

A Guide to Running Exceptional One-on-Ones

How effective are your one-on-ones? Here's a practical guide for managers and their direct reports...

Serious about levelling up as a CEO?

The Clarity Program is an accelerated coaching program that helps startup and scale-up CEOs communicate their customer need, strategy, and vision.

Learn about Clarity