3 Keys To Be A Cross-Industry Marketing Maven
A few months ago, I discussed Pablo Picasso and differentiation. I think it’s important to revisit this topic.
A number of entrepreneurs and business owners I know have trouble understanding how to differentiate their companies. It’s a common problem and one that I’ve faced throughout my career.
Generally speaking, most people’s knowledge comes from their training and experience in a specific industry. For example, the owner of a graphics design firm should know best practices for the design industry but likely doesn’t know similar best practices for a hair salon. It’s easy to get isolated in your industry and unintentionally put on blinders.
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I’ve found that this can be dangerous because you might miss changes in other industries that can benefit you. Also, the way one industry markets itself or builds business processes can be revolutionary if applied to another industry.
A friend of mine who owns a successful medical equipment company was inspired by timeshare pitches, particularly how customers visit a beautiful resort and come to them. He borrowed from that playbook and frequently invites highly-qualified target clients to a resort to demonstrate specific equipment. This approach gives his potential clients a chance to get away from the office and really get to inspect the equipment. The beautiful setting certainly doesn’t hurt either.
This is just one example of borrowing ideas from other industries. But how do you find the best ideas and apply them to your business?
Become a cross-industry marketing maven.
I typically use three methods that have been successful. First, I talk to clients about their companies. I ask them lots of questions about how they conduct their business, what processes they use, and how they market themselves. I’ve found that business owners love to talk about their business. Mine your clients for information about how they operate and see what you can learn from them.
Second, and similarly, I stay active in a variety of business and CEO groups. Most cities have a number of clubs and associations for business owners. This is another place to learn how companies in other industries operate. I often compare notes on how I run my business with other CEOs. We talk about business models, processes, how to target clients, etc. I’ve been inspired by hearing how companies in other industries operate.
Third, be observant. I learn a lot by simply watching what others are doing. Whenever I’m in a store, I pay attention to how people try to sell me products. I make note of ads and sales processes that stick with me. I don’t hang up when I receive marketing calls. Rather, I listen to how the product/service is being offered.
In fact, one of the marketing tactics I’ve used was borrowed from another industry. A number of years ago I launched a very successful freight matching service in the transportation/trucking industry. I was looking for ways to differentiate the company and was inspired by direct mail I received from AOL AOL +3.05% that offered a 30 day free trial to use the software (as I said, this was a while ago). That type of free trial had never been offered for freight matching. I was confident in the company and knew that we had a good product. I also knew that customers would be happy with us if they gave us a shot. So we offered a 30 day free trial for new customers and the response was incredible. It was a game changer for the company and the industry.
Perhaps the most important piece of advice is to be aware and observant. Take a look at what companies in other industries are doing and see if you can apply any lessons or tactics to your business. Becoming a cross-industry marketing maven can help your company differentiate itself and succeed.