There's nothing quite worse than the feeling that you're about to run out of ideas.
You're a little sweaty, you start to panic, and before you know it, you find yourself flipping through your competitor's website like a mad (wo)man.
The truth is, new ideas don't always come to us in a mystical flash of light. In fact, often times they require a great deal of discovery and reimagining.
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But rather than run to your competitor's website to stir up suggestions, consider what could become of exploring a company that holds no ties to your industry.
What a software company can learn from an online shoe retailer:
Let's say you have an awesome B2B software, but do you don't have the the support in place yet to ensure everything runs smoothly.
The truth is, glitches, malfunctions, and total system meltdowns happen whether we like it or not, and it's your job to ensure that there is a reliable team in place to help customers pick up the pieces.
In fact, we'd argue that support is equally as important as the functionality of the software itself.
For insight into a brilliant customer support strategy, check out what Zappos has been up to on social media:
(While you shouldn't limit your support to just social media, it does serve as an increasingly popular, real-time channel for responding to questions and problems.)
Through their commitment to delivering excellent customer support, Zappos has become famous for their award-winning approach (and willingness to be a little silly sometimes.)
What you can learn from them:
Accommodate the customer as often as possible
Treat people like people
Anticipate problems so that solutions are ready
Don't hesitate to go above and beyond
3 reasons why you should look for inspiration outside of your industry:
1. It forces you to think outside the box
I work for an inbound marketing agency, yet when it comes time to come up with ideas for something like a website redesign, I don't look to other agencies websites. Instead, our team explores new, innovative websites like that of Airbnb to stir up concepts and ideas.
This approach allows us to look for inspiration that doesn't directly fit what we're trying to do, and as a result, forces us to get creative.
2. People in your space aren't doing these things
If you're constantly turning to your competitor's website for inspiration, you're always going to be a step behind.
Think about it.
At best, you're going to eat up what their doing, and then try to pass it off as something new. And just because your high school lunch ladies got away with serving up yesterday's goods, doesn't mean that you should settle for the same for your business.
Looking to unrelated sources for inspiration will help to turn up ideas and designs that people in your industry aren't already executing on.
3. It helps you discover new channels
Let's say you're a sales consulting firm and you're looking for new ways to refresh your blog content. Rather than put your own spin on yesterday's article from your competitor's blog, consider checking out what people in the real estate industry are doing on their blogs.
Sure, the topics won't match your needs, but what about the format?
Oh, they're using SlideShare? What's that? You can tell stories through slides? Cool! Will this work for our audience? ...see what I'm saying?
Sometimes all it takes to come about new opportunities is to venture outside of your comfort zone.