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Newsletter #897: The “Ideas from IKEA” 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.]

IKEA is the world’s largest furniture retailer, but somehow this behemoth also manages to be one of most personable and fun companies on earth. There are so many great ideas you can borrow from them. Here are just a few to get you started:

1. They make useful ads
2. They go to their customers
3. They do weird stuff
4. Check it out: Decoding IKEA names

1. They make useful ads

If you’re going to make an ad, make it worth sharing. At IKEA, they created cardboard posters and put them all around Montreal for the city’s “Moving Day.” The amazing part? The posters folded into moving boxes. The entire city ended up walking around with boxes saying things like “Fill ‘er up!” and “Take this box and stuff it,” and they estimated a 14-percent increase in store traffic and a 25-percent jump in sales.

The lesson: Would anybody tell a friend about your ads? If not, why are you making them?

Learn more: Adweek

2. They go to their customers

Most marketers try to get their customers to come to them, but the great ones don’t wait — they go to their customers. At IKEA, they did it by going to the airport. In Paris’ Charles de Gaulle International, they set up a massive “IKEA lounge,” complete with comfy chairs and beds to nap in. For a tired traveler, it’s an oasis of peace and comfort. It’s also an awesome way for a whole bunch of strangers to experience IKEA for the first time.

The lesson: Where do big groups of your customers meet? How could you get there and do something great for them?

Learn more: Dezeen

3. They do weird stuff

Maybe the best thing IKEA does? Weird stuff. They serve meatballs. They’ll watch your kids (or your husband) while you shop. They have bizarre product names. And then there’s their latest offering: Beer. This summer, they launched their own house brew of dark lager. They sell it in their U.K. stores (pre-assembled) for about $3. Sure, most customers probably won’t indulge — but a whole bunch will talk about it.

The lesson: You never know which ideas are going tocreate tons of conversations and which ones will go unnoticed. So try a lot of stuff — if nobody talks, that’s fine. Try again.

Learn more: BeerStreetJournal

4. Check it out: Decoding IKEA names

Ektorp, Karlstad, Kivik, Hemnes, Besta, and Boksel. Where do all these IKEA product names come from? What do they mean? I wondered the same thing way back in 2007 and posted the results of my investigation.

Check it out: Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That!

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