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We like to use all kinds of ways to invoke and praise creativity. One of the most common ones is “thinking outside the box”. We’re always so eager to use this cliché, we over-power it...
We like to use all kinds of ways to invoke and praise creativity. One of the most common ones is “thinking outside the box”. We’re always so eager to use this cliché, we over-power it and offer it as THE solution to any problem whatsoever. But is it really the case? It might be, but not always. And not that easy.
One of the most powerful questions that you need to answer when you want to start a new business is “was it done before?“. I used to ask myself this question as well, all the time. It is still one of the first things i would ask anyone who would come for an advice. But it’s not the only thing that matters and probably, not even the most important one, as some might think.
In some countries, there are these places which are called fish markets. People generally go there to buy fresh seafood, fish and shellfish, and generally, everyone there is selling only seafood. But what if you come with the brilliant idea of selling apples there, in the fish market?
Think about it. You will have literally 0 (ZERO) competition there. You will be the only one selling apples in the fish market. And since fish is known to be the healthiest type of meat, what can be healthier than an apple? You could use this as your main logic association to promote your products. “Go healthy all the way”, “Apple & fish, healthy & delish” and such. And since people already need to buy apples and they are there anyway, why not buy them from you, while searching for some fresh tuna? Win-win!
So, in your opinion, this is a business that can’t fail. Even more, since it’s a great example of thinking outside the box, right? But, as always, things are a bit more complicated. People could hesitate to buy the apples you sell in the fish market. Why? Well, because they go buy fish there. Not apples.
The main reason would be that, at a psychological level, people don’t associate apples with fish markets. Therefore, they won’t feel completely comfortable to buy them there. It would feel “weird”, at least at first sight (most of the times, that’s all it takes). And just like everything else new, people would have the first impulse to push back on the idea, possibly long enough to make you give up on it.
Furthermore, just like the fish market offers a variety of seafood, different kinds of fish, maybe the same kind of fish sold by different people, the buyers might prefer to go buy their apples in a similar place, where they can choose from different sellers, different types, different price ranges and so on. Plus, some people can think that the apples might smell like fish when you eat them. Eww, that’s gross!
Not so confident anymore, are you? But wait, there is a moral to this story. Is this kind of innovation a bad thing? No. Is it bad to be the first who does something? No, but it is not enough to succeed. So you shouldn’t take business decisions based only on the fact that no one else is doing that. You need to do your homework first.
Of course, the “apples in the fish market” example is a minor one, you wouldn’t have a great loss caused by it. But think about launching a new product or service to your costumers. You need to make studies, you need to create a really solid campaign, you need to do research and plan and discuss every single detail. Because being new, unique or special is really not enough.