A common misbelief among entrepreneurs is that they’ve got to stumble across the “next big thing” in order to make it. Yet, what many fail to recognize is that generating a groundbreaking, never-before-seen idea isn’t always the best strategy.
When you introduce a new idea to the world, you face several barriers. You must convince people it’s relevant, address their concerns, overcome criticism, get it to take off, and most importantly, get it to stay relevant.
Doing this successfully can be incredibly challenging. Instead, why not select an idea that’s already working? When people already love something, the work has been done for you.
Aspiring entrepreneurs, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. According to one successful founder, the only innovation you need to do may be putting your own spin on a classic idea.
Meet Nick Gray, the creator of Museum Hack, a company that leads museum tours in metropolitan cities. Here’s the catch: these tours are nothing like you’ve experienced before. They feature quirky guides, games, and gossip–which have earned the affection of clients like Google, Facebook, Spotify and Etsy.
I caught up with Gray about how he brought museum tours back in style on this week’s episode of Unconventional Life, “The Quickest Way To Get Started: Repackage What’s Working & Make It Your Own.”
Gray says he launched Museum Hack as a “rebellious idea that there had to be a better way” to do things. Since he was young, Gray has always been breaking the rules in the name of good business.
In college, his first business contracted high-end speakers from China and set up shop outside Wake Forest University under the name “Wake Speakers,” selling freshmen speakers that were supposedly sold with the University laptop. Wake Forest lawyers reached out to Gray complaining he couldn’t use the “Wake” name for an independent business–but not until Gray had already sold out of all his inventory for the year.
When Gray got started with museums, it was completely in character for him to do the unexpected. “From day one it was not a sophisticated tour,” he jokes. He began exposing the little-known secrets of museum artifacts, including how much they costed, whether they had been stolen or not, and what their juicy backstories were.
One day, a blogger wrote about what Gray was up to, and the next day, 1,300 people emailed him asking to join one of the tours. “I think that’s the singular moment where I was like, this is a really big deal,” Gray says.
Since then, Gray has moved on from being a one-man-show and expanded his museum tours to feature dozens of specially trained guides in New York City, San Francisco, Washington DC, and Chicago. Hundreds of raving reviews and lengthy wait lists allowed him to attract high-end clients and bring back museums to a tech-obsessed millennial generation.
What stands out about Gray’s success was that he didn’t need a million-dollar new idea. Instead, he started with what was already working–the $135 billionmuseum industry–and introduced a modern twist. Below, Gray shares how you can seriously profit from making a classic business idea your own.
2. It’s all about how you package it. While Gray’s service of a museum tour wasn’t unique, the way he packaged it certainly was. People had never heard of a museum tour claiming to be sassy and subversive, sharing “details that the museum staff would never share with you because they might lose their jobs.” With creative repackaging, you can capture interest and give the impression of a brand new product or service your customers will be dying to experience.
3. Don’t be afraid of the spotlight. You’ll want to create as much noise from as many outlets as you can about your product or service. Getting attention shouldn’t be difficult if you decide to market with stand-out taglines and punchy, thought-provoking copy. To reach your target audience, you’ll need to know who they are from the inside out. Identify where their attention is directed–the kind of podcasts they listen to, the social media platforms they frequent, and the sites they visit–and make sure they see you there. One way to create buzz and potentially earn more testimonials is to give away samples of your product for free. This week, Gray is giving away two tickets to any Museum Hack tour in NYC, San Fran, and DC to listeners and readers of Unconventional Life. Learn more about it here.
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