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Use Funnel Vision To Borrow Ideas From Other Types Of Business

One of my favourite business gurus, Jay Abraham contrasts tunnel vision with funnel vision as different approaches to finding ways to improve the business.

Tunnel Vision versus Funnel Vision

Tunnel vision is the process of focusing entirely on what’s going on in your profession, trade or industry. You watch your competitors closely together and  when you see something that looks a good idea, you copy it.

You should also keep an eye on best practices from your sector in the rest of the country or world, depending on how widely you compete. Many local businesses don’t bother to look at what companies are doing in other big cities and, as a result, they miss out on ideas that they could adapt.

Funnel vision is the process of taking a wider perspective on business ideas and best practices. You keep your eyes open and watch how other types of businesses deal with you, your family and friends. You also keep an eye on the media to widen your scope further. If you see a good idea that comes from outside your industry that is helping to achieve an objective you want to meet, you ask yourself how you can borrow or adapt the idea.

Tunnel vision helps to reinforce standard industry recipes for success that, ironically, lead to me-too companies using me-too methods to compete. Inevitably this can lead to near stalemate situations where success depends on how well the ideas are implemented rather than the breadth of ideas used.

Funnel vision helps to differentiate businesses within a sector because each is picking and choosing from a much wider set of options. The impact of different strategies can lead to explosive growth for those business owners with the courage to be different.

Are You Going To Play By Your Competitors Rules Or Are You Going To Set Your Own Rules?

As a business owner, you have a simple choice, to play the game or to change the game.

The right approach depends on your customers, what they want and the way they behave.

First I don’t think it’s a straight black or white choice.

I think you’d be crazy to ignore your competitors and the methods that bring general success to your sector. If Facebook is by far and away the best way to reach your customers, then you need to be active on Facebook.

I also think it’s a big mistake to be blinkered and focus entirely on your trade or profession and what your competitors are doing. There are normally other things that you can do that help you to get the attention of more eyes and ears or more impact.

Going back to Facebook, if it’s a key component of reaching your target customers, you don’t have to limit yourself to using it in the same way as your competitors. You can look outside and see how others are adding interesting little tweaks to the approach.

To Be Effective With Funnel Vision, You Need Clarity Of Purpose

In a world of information overload, if you try to pay attention to everything, you finish up giving too little focused attention to anything.

I’m a believer in using The Three Ways To Grow A Business as a way to help you to focus on the important and to disregard the trivial.

As a reminder, this says that the three ways to grow any business are:

  • To Increase The Number Of Customers.
  • To Increase The Number Of Times A Customer Buys From You.
  • To Increase The Value Of The Average Transaction.

Now prioritise. Where is the biggest problem or constraint in your business?

Let’s skip over the number of customers. Of course it is important but it’s done to death.

Instead let’s focus on increasing the number of times a customer buys from you.

Using Funnel Vision to Find Ideas On How To Increase The Number Of Times A Customer Will Buy

A business owner with tunnel vision will look at what close competitors are doing. If they have a few strategies, then they can be copied but if there don’t appear to be any in operation, the danger is to assume that re-purchase strategies don’t work in your industry.

That’s a false premise in the majority of cases. There are a few one-off situations where it is true. A couple of years ago, we had to have a new roof put on our house and it had a 20 year guarantee. I can’t think of any special deal or loyalty scheme that’s going to make me want another new roof for many years to come.

However the roofing company we used, also did other building work and that does open up the scope for marketing additional transactions. We are worth keeping in contact with.

A business owner with funnel vision will look outside his or her own industry sector and look at what others are doing to encourage repurchases.

Your local coffee shop may offer a deal where you buy nine drinks and get the tenth free, and they stamp or sticker a card each time you buy a coffee. Is this an idea that could be adapted in your trade?

Or what if you don’t have nice equivalent units like cups of coffee? Well the airlines had that problem as travellers went to Paris, New York or Sidney in Australia. Their solution was Air Miles which you could convert into free flights.

Or what about Tesco who have sent me vouchers that say “Save £5 when you spend £50 on your next purchase.” I’ve got seven days to use or lose out, and, even though an Asda superstore is closer, I find myself going to Tesco. Again is this an idea you could use?

Or an old employer of mine that sold to electrical wholesalers used rebate schemes. Each month, quarter or year, we’d give the major customers some money back based on how much they’d spent, provided they’d exceeded the threshold. This meant that we could apply quantity discounts retrospectively rather than concede them in hope of getting extra business.

A more extreme version is my local wildlife safari park which offers a free return trip later in the year. It does this because there is no cost associated with the return trip but there is a high probability of extra money being spent on the theme park rides or in the bars and cafes on site. More revenue and no extra cost must be good.

A cruise line we travelled with a few times used to give return passengers a gold cruise card to flash around rather than the standard blue card. We also had a special party one night and physical rewards when we crossed a certain number of trips. Little things but they made us feel special on a ship we had a special affinity with.

You can use the same thinking to get more customers:

  • How is the message communicated?
  • What special offers are used to encourage action?
  • How can you give new customers confidence that you will do what you say you will do?
  • How can extra referrals be generated?

All good questions and all can be answered if you use funnel vision rather than tunnel vision.

It’s Time To Be Open Minded

If you know what you want to do, and you look around, you will see ideas that you may be able to adapt.

Not all of them may be suitable so test them in a small way. See what kind of response you get and then develop them further or try another idea.

Remember the basic improvement methodology is the Stop Start More Less Process. If something isn’t working and, unless you can see a way to give it a big boost, stop. If something is working well, try to do it more…

Want To Know More About Jay Abraham’s Ideas?

His book Getting Everything You Can… is one of the 12 books I recommend should be read most widely by business owners.

I think The Business Owners Guide To Making Out Like A Bandit is excellent and is another author’s take on Jay Abraham’s ideas.


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