‘Bah, Humbug!’ Why Negative Content Turns In Such Positive Results

People like to hate Steven Singer.

That “hate” is so pervasive that the jewellery retailer’s web site is: IHateStevenSinger.com. The firm is so dedicated to celebrating the “hate” that it doesn’t even personal the area StevenSinger.com.

What’s behind all that “hate” pervading Philadelphia radio and satellite tv for pc airwaves? (The firm says it’s the longest-running advertiser on The Howard Stern Show.) It’s the story of buyer suggestions (presumably apocryphal) that launched a advertising and marketing marketing campaign that’s lasted for years.

It’s additionally a narrative in regards to the energy of contrarian considering – a useful reminder for content material entrepreneurs.

@IHSS (I Hate Steven Singer) shows the power of contrarian thinking, a useful #ContentMarketing lesson, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Contrarian technique stands out in a gift-driven market

The web site’s History web page recounts the origin story: A Steven Singer customer returned 20 years after buying an engagement ring to purchase one other diamond ring for his or her anniversary. About 9 months later, the couple returned to the jewellery retailer to point out off their new child. The spouse exclaimed, “I love Steven Singer,” to which the husband responded, “Here we go again. We’re up all night with feedings and diaper changes. I HATE Steven Singer.”

(Here’s the audio explanation used in their commercials.)

Image source

Steven Singer Jewelers turned that humorous remark right into a model perspective.

A weblog submit known as Why Hate Steven Singer explains recounts why large retailer jewelers hate Steven Singer:

  • Steven Singer Jewelers says it doesn’t low cost as a result of it presents the perfect worth from the start and mocks different jewelers’ large low cost gross sales
  • The impartial jeweler criticizes the lower-quality diamonds bought by the massive shops, referring to them by their trade identify, “frozen spit.”
  • Steven Singer lets prospects improve purchases from the corporate by giving them a trade-in worth equal to the value they initially paid.

The contrarian messaging continues all through the location. The web site record the enterprise tackle as “the other corner of Eighth and Walnut” in Philadelphia. Even the Oops message (proven under) continues the theme, declaring, “Steven hated this page … so he moved it. Try these instead.”

Image source

How to craft a contrarian content material advertising and marketing method

A contrarian or adverse method can remodel your content material advertising and marketing technique.

The objective is to get your viewers to say, “Wait, what?!”

Subverting the expectations of audiences dulled to related messaging provides them pause – and entices them to decipher what you’re speaking about.

You can apply components of reverse or adverse considering to particular person belongings or make it the “voice” of your content material, as Steven Singer does.

A contrarian, adverse, or opposite-thinking technique is daring –some individuals could not perceive what you’re doing. Just ensure your model’s management does. Otherwise, they’ll cease it virtually as quickly as you publish it.

Here are just a few methods to place that technique into motion (as soon as it’s authorized).

A contrarian or negative #ContentStrategy is bold. Not everyone will get it. Just make sure your leadership does, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent Click To Tweet

Write an surprising lead

Start small by crafting introductions to articles utilizing reverse messaging. This small step might help you take a look at whether or not your viewers is receptive to this method.

Try this train internally to make sure your crew understands what you need them to do: Give the writers an article you already revealed and ask them to rewrite the lead following the contrarian, adverse, or opposite-thinking technique.


Fast Company published an article with this intro:

After practically three years of a world pandemic and months, if not years, of working from house, the primary factor drawing staff again to their places of work is the need to easily concentrate on their work. But on the identical time, places of work within the U.S. have hit a 15-year low in terms of how efficient they’re for enabling targeted work.

This troubling mismatch is without doubt one of the high takeaways from the 2022 U.S. Workplace Survey from the Gensler Research Institute, the analysis arm of the worldwide structure and design agency Gensler.

Contrarian-strategy revision:

U.S. staff don’t know what they’re speaking about.

That’s the revelation from the 2022 U.S. Workplace Survey from the Gensler Research Institute.

Its survey discovered the most well-liked cause for staff eager to return to the workplace is to concentrate on their particular person work. Yet, it additionally finds U.S. places of work are at a 15-year low in how efficient they’re for enabling targeted work.

The unique model focuses on what individuals say they need. The negative-strategy model exposes the mismatch between what individuals say they need and the truth of workplace environments.

The tone is eye-catchingly adverse, and the sentence makes a U.S.-based viewers curious to find why they might be mistaken.

Dig deeper for thought management content material

You’ll appeal to a much bigger viewers in case your thought management isn’t the identical outdated standard. But that doesn’t imply you must take an opposing view in the event you don’t imagine it.

The subsequent time you deal with a thought management asset, analysis what’s already written or stated in regards to the matter and the way it’s sometimes expressed. Then, ask in case your view on the subject differs out of your content material opponents’.

If so, brainstorm the chances and choose the one most related to your viewers. If not, you may nonetheless create one thing totally different by in search of an underdeveloped or unaddressed level or angle on this matter.

When reacting to revealed analysis, most individuals write thought management items across the first statistic or two. To create one thing that bucks the mainstream (with out taking an reverse view you don’t imagine), go deeper into the outcomes. Find totally different stats related to your curiosity viewers and body your content material round that.

You’ll attract more attention if your approach to thought leadership avoids the same-old story, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet


Let’s use the 2022 U.S. Workplace Survey once more. The Fast Company article targeted on the office effectiveness chart offered on the webpage for the report (because the screenshot under exhibits).

Screenshot showing a research chart near the top of Gensler site page called How can we design a more compelling office of the future?

Image source

Unexpected different:

But you may dig deeper into the analysis to discover a contemporary angle.

With most individuals targeted on the primary or most blatant chart, search for one thing much less anticipated buried deeper within the analysis.

The chart on the backside of the report net web page (as proven within the screenshot under) appears on the respondents’ “ideal mix” of experiences for an organization office. The chart exhibits the chances for eight classes: clubhouse, espresso store, library, artistic lab, boutique resort, residential, convention heart, and company.

Screenshot showing a research chart near the bottom of a website page.

Image source

A content material marketer in a related trade may craft a thought management piece across the workplace experiences staff need.

Think past content material creation

While the Steven-Singer technique is smart for content material creation, it can also work for different elements of your content material advertising and marketing program.

Marketers typically wish to know the perfect time and day to ship an electronic mail, submit to social, and many others. You do a Google search and find Tuesdays are the best day to send emails. That identical report signifies that the perfect time to ship electronic mail is between 9 a.m. and midday.

Of course, since so many others will see that very same window listed as a greatest follow, electronic mail inboxes get flooded between 9 a.m. on midday on Tuesdays. Why not ship your emails later within the day or on a special day of the week?

Test the alternate ship time for just a few weeks to see if that opposite-thinking technique works in your viewers. If not, you may all the time change again.

Don’t overlook about your content material codecs, both.

CMI’s most up-to-date B2B analysis discovered that the majority entrepreneurs (89%) use articles and posts of lower than 1,500 phrases for content material advertising and marketing. Other generally used codecs embody:

  • Videos of any size (75%)
  • Case research (67%)
  • Virtual occasions/webinars/on-line programs (62%)
  • Infographics/charts/knowledge visualization/3D fashions (61%)
  • Long articles/posts (greater than 1,500 phrases)
  • E-books and white papers (59%)
  • In-person occasions (49%)

On the opposite hand, solely 17% of entrepreneurs use print magazines and books.

That’s an opposite-strategy alternative. Could you develop a print journal in your viewers? Given how few entrepreneurs do, your content material would stand out.

If print isn’t possible, take into consideration different lesser-used sorts, comparable to audio content material (utilized by 33% of entrepreneurs), analysis experiences (utilized by 30%), or livestreaming content material (16%).

TIP: An opposite-thinking technique for content material codecs doesn’t require you to desert the unique format. Look for methods to repurpose content material deliberate for well-liked codecs into less-used ones.

You can apply an opposite-thinking content strategy without rejecting common formats, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Become probably the most ‘hated’ content material advertising and marketing

Your content material opponents will solely proceed to develop within the months, a long time, and years to return. The want to face out and appeal to consideration and curiosity out of your viewers by no means goes away.

With that in thoughts, adopting a Steven-Singer technique in your content material is smart. And who is aware of? It may simply be the ticket to outcomes that everyone likes.

Want extra content material advertising and marketing ideas, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.


Cover picture by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute