Last week, I was talking to a co-worker about LEGO and it got me thinking about how brilliantly LEGO has expanded. Here are some things that every small business owner could learn from them:
1. Look outside your primary market
Originally, Lego was geared toward boys until 1971 when they introduced furniture pieces and dollhouses for girls. LEGO also added the Duplo product line (essentially large-sized lego) for pre-school kids. Like LEGO, you should keep an eye out for new opportunities for your products outside your traditional buyers.
2. Use your product to help others
Since the 1960’s, teachers used LEGO as a learning tool. By 1980, the LEGO group caught on and established the Educational Product Department to expand the educational possibilities of using LEGO. When your product has a learning component to it, you may want to offer it free to schools and/or community centers. People will talk about it and since they’re already used to your products, they’re most likely to buy it for their own private use too.
3. Keep on top of industry and mainstream news
In 1985, with the ever increasing popularity of computers, LEGO introduced the Technic Computer Control. It allowed Technic robots, trucks and other motorized LEGO toys to be controlled by a computer. As a small business owner, it’s important to read up on what’s happening not only in your industry but what’s becoming mainstream. It may help you find inspiration for new product ideas and prevent your product from getting outdated.
4. Form partnerships with complementary companies
Nowadays, it’s common to see movie-themed LEGO sets like Harry Potter and Star Wars. You can also find LEGO video games and story books. The company smartly formed partnerships with products that suited their brand and you can do the same. Ask your regular customers for ideas or brainstorm your own from time to time.
5. Embrace your fans
LEGO has encouraged and embraced hardcore LEGO builders through competitions and clubs. In 1988, LEGO held the first ever LEGO World Cup building contest. You can also see LEGO exhibits and subscribe to the LEGO Club Magazine. When you notice your customers are banding together to use your product, look for ways to help them to connect with each other. It could be as simple as a discussion board on your website (on CityMax, add layout “Message Board”) or hosting meet ups for customers to share ideas.
If there’s a company that you aspire to be like, check online for their story.