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Newsletter #895: The “Stolen Ideas” 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.]

The best marketers are always on the lookout for ideas they can borrow, improve upon, and apply to what they’re doing. In fact, that’s the big idea behind this whole newsletter.

So don’t be shy. Get out there and start stealing. Here are some great examples to get you thinking:

1. A used car dealership you want to hang out in
2. Tech-style support for interior fashion
3. What to do when someone “borrows” your ideas
4. Check it out: Rich Kids of Instagram

1. A used car dealership you want to hang out in

Why do you feel like you need a shower after you leave the typical used car dealership? It doesn’t have to be that way, and Step Motors of Miki City, Japan is out to prove it. To pull it off, they borrowed the look and feel of a high-end coffee shop and boutique retailer. And by being selective in the cars they sell, customers feel like they’re getting something special — not just someone else’s hand-me-down.

The lesson: Just because a great concept you discover is in a completely different industry doesn’t mean you can’t apply it to your business.

Learn more: PSFK

2. Tech-style support for interior fashion

What if you could get Apple’s Genuis Bar-level of support and consultation at more places? Well, thanks to former Apple executive Ron Johnson — who’s now the CEO of JCPenney — you will. Through their partnership with Martha Stewart Living, they’re featuring in-store interior fashion consultants who will help customers implement home design tips. This makes the whole experience more than just another trip to the department store — it’s a place to learn and get one-on-one ideas they can’t get anywhere else.

The lesson: The more advice and support you give customers, the more they trust you, shop with you, and tell friends about you.

Learn more: Yahoo!

3. What to do when someone “borrows” your ideas

Great marketers know how to borrow a great idea, and even better ones know how to respond when someone borrows theirs. Shortly after Patrick Wensink’s latest novel, “Broken Piano for President,” was published, he got a cease-and-desist letter from Jack Daniel’s. They felt the cover of his book looked a little too much like the Jack Daniel’s logo. But it wasn’t just any legal letter — it was perhaps the nicest cease-and-desist ever sent. They said they were flattered, called him a “Louisville neighbor,” and simply asked that he change the cover on the next print run instead of demanding he pull everything immediately. They even offered to pay “a reasonable amount” toward the cost if Wensink changed the cover art sooner.

The lesson: It’s possible to defend your brand and act like a human — and the potential word of mouth you can earn is worth the effort.

Learn more: Business Insider

4. Check it out: Rich Kids of Instagram

The site’s description says it best: They have more money than you and this is what they do.

Check it out: Rich Kids of Instagram

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