I’ve already blogged about being a flexible thinker and starting to take a different perspective. Here’s another article that writes in general about the same topic (don’t be put off by ‘startup’ being in the title): Why You Should Embrace Opposing Views at Your Startup
The point is, whether it’s your sector or a different one, don’t dismiss ideas that deliver to customer need. In fact go looking for what your competitors and others are doing, and consider why and how they’re doing it. You may copy the idea (staying clear of intellectual property issues) or adapt. When it’s incorporated as part of your total offering no one is likely to know or care.
As an example, a useful business trend right now is to suggest other products or services that align with a purchase. They might either be complementary, or popular with other people that have bought the same product. This isn’t anything new, rather returning to good old personalised customer focus. Technology is the enabler for this now. For example, Air New Zealand sent me an email with some accommodation, rental car/campervan suggestions based on a booking I’ve made with them. They also included some non-sales information about our destination too. To me their approach is unobtrusive, easy and practical.
Fashion items including clothes, books and music all provide an opportunity for adding more benefit (and sales). But there’s many more businesses that could do the same surely, e.g energy companies selling energy efficient products; florists providing a service to manage all your special occasions; motor vehicle dealers arranging insurance; sports stores that suggest complementary items, to name a few. Think of it as: ‘what problem can I help solve for my customer?’
I’d suggest you want to understand what emotion is being stirred up in users when a different approach is being used and replicate the good stuff. Also ensure it’s aligned with your brand and customer needs.
Of course you have to try and find this stuff. Talking to your customers is always the best bet. Try to do it yourself, but otherwise engage with partners that are interested in your success. Customers will know what your competition are doing.
Go 2 Market principle: don’t be precious. Adapt others ideas to help create your success.