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Think Inside the Box
09 Jan 2017

Think Inside the Box

In this age of disruption, the adage “think outside the box” is in danger of becoming so cliché as to lose its meaning, or at least its impact. Indeed, thinking outside the box may actually now still be thinking inside the box! What a conundrum.

Thinking outside the box is how we talk about innovation. Instead of formulating ideas on what already exists, we are now to formulate ideas that are completely new, bearing no resemblance to anything the world has ever seen. Our task, merely, is to come up with the next best thing since sliced bread.

I have a question for you, though. What if one of the new ways to think outside the box is, quite literally, thinking inside the box, or a box, at any rate?

Boxes, boxes everywhere

The first I had ever heard of box subscriptions was probably on Facebook where I saw that a friend of mine was waxing poetic about Barkbox. She loved seeing the new toys and treats her dog got every month. My dog has the most sensitive stomach ever known to canines, so I opted not to try it out, but a lot of people have subscribed to Barkbox, much to the delight of their furry friends (or so the marketers say anyway).

Then, I started hearing about Blue Apron, which delivers recipes and the fresh food you need to make exciting new recipes at home. Yes, we are so lost in innovation that cooking at home has become exotic. Now, Blue Apron has several competitors.

Most recently, I have been seduced by Yarn Box, which offers a variety of monthly subscriptions that give you, as you might have guessed, yarn. When you are into knitting and crocheting, the allure of monthly yarn is powerful. Terribly powerful. I’m trying to get through the room full of yarn I have before adding to my hoard, but I may lose that battle.

Let me put it this way, folks. Boxes are popular, and they’re becoming more popular, it seems, with every passing day.

What does this mean to you?

I can’t help but imagine that right now you are saying, “OK Margie, this is really fascinating, but why wax poetic to me about boxes? My business has no choice but to think outside the literal box.” Well, I have a retort all ready for you, and that is this: “Are you sure about that?”

Picture, for example, a restaurant that decides to create a box subscription. Instead of signing up for food to make, people sign up for a sampler box a month. They’d have to pick it up, so the restaurant is still getting foot traffic, but each month, the restaurant would offer a box of samplings. Maybe one month the focus is on Italian, so the box contains a variety of small pasta samples. Maybe sandwiches are the focus one month, so the box would contain little finger sandwiches.

Let’s say you’re an office supply store. Maybe you encourage people to sign up for subscription boxes for the kinds of office supplies that always seem to run out at the worst times. These boxes could contain paper clips, staples, highlighters, pens (yes, some people still use pens), and maybe one fun product, like candy or a cute paperweight.

Even marketers could come up with their own boxes. Maybe these “boxes” would be virtual, but each box could contain, say, book recommendations, blog post recommendations, and more. Little snippets of helpful reading material, already vetted, would be useful, right?

Maybe it’s time to ponder whether your company could, or should, think INSIDE the box. It might just be the “outside of the box” kind of thinking you’ve been seeking.

Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/35754040@N04/8550611149 via Creative Commons

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