Ask someone. That's it. Go out there into the world, and ask people what they think. Sounds too simple, doesn't it? It's called Voice of the Customer.
But most people don't do that. They're afraid that they might be told something that they don't want to hear. Or they'll be talked out of their dream/strategy. Or that stronger personalities might co-opt their idea, mold it, and it will look totally different from when they started. So they just stop and talk to no one.
Let me help you — go talk to people. People that have done it before. People that have used your service. People that might have great ideas. Yesterday, I ran into a great Reddit question (if you don't follow Reddit, you should):
"I own a liquor store and want to know what type of things do you look for when you shop at your local liquor store? What would make your shopping better?"
Here are some of the responses — pure gold if you ask me:
- I love how one of my local movie rental stores have handwritten notes recommending certain dvds. Why not do the same for liquor? A note that says: "Goes great with: xxx, xxx, or xxx" could be great for people trying new liquors and wanting to switch things up.
- I think that 'employee picks' would be pretty cool. Just like you see in an independent bookstore - just a little note under the product with a name and a short blurb about why it's great.
- Liquor of the week - slightly discount something obscure each week and sell at the counter. It would give people a reason to try new things.
- Offer customers the option of making their own six packs from our selection for a flat rate.
- Free bag of ice with purchase (a store back home used to do this. I went there all the time because of it.)
- Lemons, limes, common mixers (e.g. Tonic, soda water, cola).
- Know your regulars - They often order things for my husband and I that they don't usually carry. Whenever we go in they make a point of telling us about anything new they've gotten in to try. We almost always take the suggestion and buy it. The owner, who is usually there, will even remember what it was and ask us how we liked it. I'm sure we spend a lot more money there due to the extra attention. I don't expect the guy to remember our names, but it's nice that he remembers what we like to drink.
- Solo Cups, Ping-Pong Balls, Playing Cards, Poker Chips, etc., etc. You know if there is a college near by.
You get the idea. One question in the right forum and you get gold from customers.
In Corporate — If you have an idea for a new project at work, run it by some people you trust — talk to mentors outside of your company. Want to make a move — start talking to people, dip your toe in the water. Reach out to industry insiders and ask their opinion.
You might be VERY surprised.