Published On: April 15, 2020By

Chair leaning on a ledge with coloured walls behind it.

Comparing ourselves to our competitors is natural—it’s what drives all of us in business. We feel threatened when our competitors do something different (especially if it appears to work), and we constantly obsess over what their next move may be. This line of thinking, however, leads us to follow in their tracks rather than forge our own path.

The most effective way to create distance from your competition is to set your sights on a new competitor—someone who operates in a completely different industry from your own. By trying to come up with ideas while putting yourself in their shoes, you’ll get an outsider’s perspective on your own industry.

Because the next big industry disrupter—for every single industry—doesn’t usually come from within the industry. It comes from an outsider.

And most business leaders won’t see it coming.

That’s how vacay-alternative Airbnb managed to blindside the hotel industry. The concept was a great new idea by two friends who did not work in hospitality.

In The Proximity Paradox, our very own Alex and Kiirsten explore the idea of how to compete with those you admire. Here are three of their most accessible tips.

1) Host a Cross-Industry Brainstorm

If you know marketing and creative professionals from different industries, invite them to get together to solve a business challenge. This concept brings a variety of problem-solvers to the table, each with a unique perspective on the same challenge.

Here at UpHouse, we do this once a year to benefit a local, non-profit organization. We gather marketers from diverse industries to brainstorm new marketing ideas in support of our chosen organization.

Every person arrives with a different point of view and distinctive brainstorming styles. The end result: a myriad of new and innovative solutions to the marketing problem.

By assembling a cross-industry brainstorm, you’ll get focused attention on your challenge and dozens of viable ideas. If you are invited to participate in one, you’ll get a break from your work routine, discover different brainstorming styles, and maybe even pick up some new ideas to try in your own business.

White gears and beams with red joints

2) Read Another Industry’s Trade Publication

Every industry has them and regularly publishes articles interviewing established and emerging players in the industries they represent. Pick a business and take the time to read what is happening in their industry magazines.

What are they doing to innovate? What trends are they watching? What technology are they adopting? How are they engaging customers?

You may have to stretch your imagination to make connections between their industry and yours, so make sure you’re in the right headspace before you start. This change in thinking and routine might help spark a different idea you would never have thought of otherwise.

3) Interview a Marketer in a Different Industry

Our “Creative Crush” blog series does just that—taps into a well of fresh thinking that never runs dry.

Interviewing another marketer helps you discover proven strategies in other industries and  gain the confidence to implement them in your own company.

While it’s always nice to treat that someone to a cup of coffee, this strategy is also something you can easily do by phone or video conference. It’s also something that many businesses and marketers likely have a little more time for these days.

Want more refreshing insights and enlivening experiences for creating distance with your competitors? The Proximity Paradox: How to Create Distance from Business as Usual and Do Something Truly Innovative is available at many local retailers and online.

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