The ride-share service that connects smart phone users with nearby drivers challenged traditional modes of getting from point A to point B. Much to the chagrin of taxi companies, the service became a huge hit. Fans claim that it’s easier, faster and comparably priced to its cab competitors.
Uber’s success is due in large part to its innovation. They offered a fresh take on an industry that had pretty much operated the same way for decades, and they did it an unexpected fashion. By borrowing from trends in the mobile industry, they married consumers’ need for a ride with the instant gratification of a smart phone.
While this wasn’t the first time brands utilized people’s use of smart phones, it does show how effective, innovative ideas are born by looking to other industries.
Too often, marketers look inward. Rather than thinking big, we endlessly tweak and optimize the same ideas, earning small gains here and there but never really achieving greatness.
As a result, we start to accept less-than-exceptional ideas and campaigns. If your business needs a marketing shake-up, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Industry best practices mandate that marketers should always follow x, y, and z when creating or tweaking a campaign. After all, certain strategies have worked before, why wouldn’t they work again? There’s nothing inherently wrong with this way of thinking. If something’s not broken, why fix it? The problem, however, is that you begin to limit yourself, and eventually the old way of doing things becomes stale and ineffective. (The irony, of course, is that most successful rebellious ideas will be folded into the status quo and eventually need to be discarded as well).
Warby Parker, a brand that sells glasses, rebelled against the standard way of sales for its industry. Rather than sell through a brick-and-mortar shop where customers could come in and try on specs, they emphasized their online presence. Counter-intuitively, they mail a range of options to people based on selections made on their website. Customers pick the ones they like and send back the others. By going against the grain, they created a new model of success.
If your business could benefit from this kind of big thinking, consult SPINX. We’re a digital marketing agency that respects the status quo but isn’t afraid to undermine it either.
Don’t obsess about the competition
You should always stay on top of what your competitors are doing. If a company has a fresh new take on how to market their product, then it can inform your own marketing efforts. Pablo Picasso said, “Good artists copy; great artists steal.” There’s nothing wrong with incorporating an excellent idea into your endeavors, as long as you make it your own (bonus points if you pull it from an industry no one expects). However, if you’re always looking at the competition, you’re most likely neglecting your own strategies. You’ll never stand out if you just do what everyone else is doing.
It’s important to note, however, that sometimes reinventing the wheel isn’t the best option. Frankly, bold risks might not be right for every client. But our industry loves to make a splash. If you’re in marketing, you should always be playing with big, new ideas, whether you use them or not.
Most successful people are curious. They think about their own occupation, sure, but they have active interests in other areas as well. Whether it’s other types of business, philosophy, music, bird-watching (why not?), etc., talk to any person who you consider successful, and she most likely has things on her mind other than her day-to-day job.
Why is this important? Successful people don’t generate ideas in a vacuum. They see the bigger picture, and connect the dots between seemingly unrelated industries or topics. A great marketer will know best practices from another industry, or maybe she’ll re-contextualize a creative idea read in a book. Well-rounded people are more likely to bring innovative concepts to the table.
So how does this all apply to your business’s digital marketing efforts? To put this all in context, here are some areas to consider for innovative and cross-industry inspiration.
B2C brands often get praised for their effective use of social media. The medium provides a nice fit for industries that market directly to consumers. However, B2Bs, despite having products that aren’t quite so media-friendly, can use social just as well. Whether it’s with a funny viral video, contest or special campaign, business-to-business brands can learn from B2Cs.
Retail thrives online, but their model provides a lesson for other industries as well. By using personalized messages, helpful blog posts or social media to stay in touch with customers, any brand from any industry can boost their consumer appreciation.
Free content is a cornerstone of digital marketing. B2Bs actually benefit greatly from this trend. A marketing company may offer whitepapers or other collateral as free downloads, but there’s no reason why B2Cs can’t have success with this method as well. A bank could offer retirement-saving tips; retailers can give away free style guides.
With a nod to other industries, your business can bring some attention-grabbing creativity to its marketing plan.