Is Your Business Stuck? Look Outside Your Industry for Ways to Get Unstuck


Most people spend their whole time in one field.

So when it comes to marketing and growing the business, they do what everyone else in their field is already doing.

If you’re a personal injury attorney, you do billboards and cheesy TV commercials. If you’re a general contractor, you have lawn signs and you rely on referrals. If you’re a local restaurant, you use Instagram and lots of discount coupons.

I could go on and on.

Most businesses look at the leaders in their industry and then just copy what they do.

In fact, there are a few marketing “gurus” out there and that’s all they teach people to do: Copy their funnel; copy their ads; copy their content; copy, copy, copy!

I call it Xerox marketing.

The result is that everyone in your industry is marketing in exactly the same way!

But the Best Companies aren’t copying. They’re innovating.

And usually, they’re getting their ideas from companies OUTSIDE their industry.

Why? Because often the obstacles that seem too big in your industry have already been solved elsewhere.

Henry Ford wanted to put a new car in the driveway of every American home. So how did he make it affordable? He drove down the production cost.

Did he look at his competitors to see how they were manufacturing cars? No way.

Instead, he looked at the meat packing industry in Chicago and discovered how they take apart a cow or pig using an assembly line.

Henry Ford then reverses the process and uses the assembly line to put together a car – cheaper than any of his competitors.

Many times the key to your business growth isn’t in getting more customers. But when you only look at what your industry is doing, that’s typically the only solution you get.

When Southwest wanted to turn their planes around faster between flights to provide better customer value – fewer departure delays, more flights offered, cleaner cabins – they didn’t look to their competitors.

They looked to NASCAR pit crews and as a result, they are the fastest airline in the industry.

Quantum leaps in performance – and value to your customers – almost always come from adapting IDEAS outside of your own industry that others are using successfully.

Your advantage comes from being able to do something clever and cool and effective that not every competitor is doing. And, by the time competitors catch up to you, you’ve already got another one.

You can’t do that by being one of eight competitors in a circle looking at each other.

You can only do that if you’re willing to BREAK THE CIRCLE.

American Airlines revitalized the entire airline industry by learning from sandwich shops. You know the cards they punch each time you buy a sandwich? After the tenth sandwich, you get one free.

American Airlines learned from those sandwich shops and developed frequent flyer miles. They were first to the market and created a significant advantage while every other industry struggled to catch up.

And Nintendo completely broke the video game model by combining physical movement with video game controllers in their Wii entertainment systems.

And of course, in an age when software companies were creating futuristic operating systems, it was Apple who learned from the most efficient office setting to create the desktop concept, complete with file folders and trash bins.

What impact do you think you could have on your company if you were to “think differently” and look outside your industry for inspiration?

“Expose yourself to the best things that humans have done and then try to bring those things in to what you’re doing.” – Steve Jobs

In the comments section, share one cross-industry innovation that’s worked for you!

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Tony Guarnaccia

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About Me

Tony has grown over 10,000 small businesses and a dozen Fortune 500 companies, including ADP, Ford, and AutoNation and became the Google Partner of the Year. Later, Tony returned to his entrepreneurship roots to bring the strategy, tactics and resources normally reserved for large enterprises to small businesses. Today, he is focused on bringing that same vision to podcast hosts and guests – to make Podcasting profitable.

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