The Idea Factory

Father’s Day is just over a week away, and plenty of retailers will offer sales and other promotions in an attempt to bring more business their way. Some will see an increase in business, others won’t. Truth is, it’s tough to motivate people to do much of anything these days. We live in jaded times where we feel like we’ve done or seen it all.

Of course we haven’t. Not even close. But that doesn’t negate the feeling. It takes something out of the ordinary to move the needle. Something you haven’t done before. Maybe even something you’ve never seen.

And I’m not just talking about Father’s Day. If you’re in business — as a retailer or manufacturer or whatever — you need to find a way to move that needle every day, not just on holidays or special occasions. Every day.

Where do ideas come from? What sparks them? People have been asking that question for hundreds of years and scientists have been studying it for decades. The data is still pretty sparse, but it’s clear you can do yourself a lot of favors by studying areas other than the one you work in.

If you’re a tackle retailer, that can mean studying the efforts of other retailers — department stores, specialty shops, exclusive boutiques, even online e-tailers. There’s something to learn from all of them.

And if you’re a tackle retailer, you’re also in the sports business. What can you extrapolate from baseball, football, basketball, hockey or even soccer? What are they doing right? What are they doing wrong? What pages can you take from their playbook?

When you think about it, you’re not just competing against other fishing retailers. You’re competing against any entity fighting for your audience’s attention and disposable income. You’re going against hunting and team sports and video games and dirt bikes and golf and rodeo and … you get the idea.

One definition of genius is taking an idea from one area and applying it to another unrelated area in order to fix a problem. You can do that, but you must be looking for the solution. You can’t stay in your comfort zone all day and night and make yourself closed to the issue and secluded from the search.

The Alabama rig took the common umbrella rig from saltwater and landlocked striped bass fishing and made it castable for the bass market. That was hardly a massive leap of technology or insight, but it was transformative for some and created a new technique and method that works all across the country.

What next great idea is staring us in the face, waiting to move the needle for one business or even an entire industry?

The Idea Factory is all around us. Let’s be open to it.

A rising tide lifts all boats. Let’s be that tide.