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Newsletter #1037: The “Making Ideas Your Own” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

We’re all about trying new things and getting outside of your comfort zone to see what works for you. But you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to get a good idea rolling. Chances are, you could learn from someone who’s already doing something brilliant.

Here are three companies that took great ideas from unlikely sources:

1. Soccer stadiums and breweries
2. Business blogs and viral videos
3. Goodwill and chic boutiques
4. Check it out: Hacker Typer

1. Soccer stadiums and breweries

When you go to a pro sports game, you can pretty much expect the same three beers on tap. After all, these brands pay a lot to be the “Official Beer Sponsor” of a professional team. But some smaller pro teams, like Sacramento’s Republic FC soccer team, have taken cues from local pubs to open up their beer menu to craft beers. After the game, they turn part of the stadium into a beer garden, which means people stick around longer and socialize with other fans. The team’s VP of Marketing says they got the idea from seeing that the people who come to their games have similar lifestyles to the people who frequent local breweries.

The lesson: Where do your customers go when they leave your store or check out from your online shop? What can you learn from those places to give them a better experience?

Learn more: The Sacramento Bee

2. Business blogs and viral videos

Blogger Gini Dietrich doesn’t write the stuff you usually see on viral content sites like BuzzFeed. Her posts on Spin Sucks are usually about professional development. But once a week she shares a more light-hearted post called “Gin and Topics.” She picks a topic and shares five funny videos on that theme — the kind of stuff you would see on BuzzFeed. It has nothing to do with her usual content, but it shows a more personal, relatable side of the author. In fact, her readers look forward to it every week and even call her out if she misses one.

The lesson: We call this a word of mouth carrier. People share these posts, talk about them, and eventually, they discover her professional development content too. (And if you haven’t already noticed, this newsletter has been doing the same thing for years. Don’t forget to read the “Check it out” below!)

Learn more: Heidi Cohen’s Blog

3. Goodwill and chic boutiques

The typical thrift store or second-hand shop isn’t all that glamorous. But they do have one thing on their side when it comes to fashion: lots of rare and one-of-a-kind clothes. Goodwill capitalized on that concept by revamping some of their stores to look like upscale boutiques instead of the place you drop off your old futon. Their new Rare by Goodwill stores are smaller, and they collect some of the more trendy vintage or antique stuff their regular stores have to offer.

The lesson: Your business might have more in common with your upscale competitors than you think. What can you learn from them about attracting new customers?

Learn more: Small Business Trends

4. Check it out: Hacker Typer

Need a super cool shot of someone hacking into a computer for a film? Want to trick someone into thinking you’re a coding prodigy? Hacker Typer will spill out strings of text while you type gibberish on a screen that looks like every computer hacking scene in every movie. (Hint: Hit “Alt” three times and it will say “Access Granted.”)

Check it out: Hacker Type

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