A few years ago, The Coca-Cola Company approached movie theaters with an interesting proposition.

They wanted to install Coke vending machines in the lobbies of movie theaters that were already selling Coca-Cola fountain drinks.

Of course, most movie theaters declined the offer because they feared that the vending machines would cannibalize existing fountain sales. But one enterprising movie theater company decided to test the premise assuming that they could always take the vending machines out if they saw a large decline in fountain drinks.

To the movie theater company’s surprise, when the Coke vending machines were installed in the lobbies, fountain sales didn’t decline at all. What’s more, with the addition of the Coke vending machines, overall sales of Coca-Cola increased for each theater!

Who would have expected those results? 

Lessons Learned
The movie theater company that took the risk with the vending machines learned several important lessons:

  • Sometimes you have to look in unexpected places to grow sales
  • Taking calculated risks is a necessary part of growing your business
  • Every time you think you’ve got consumer behavior figured out, consumers surprise you with unexpected nuances

Action Steps for You

Here are some action steps you can take today based on the story above.

  1. Brainstorm 15 unexpected new revenue streams with key executives from your company. Be sure to employ the “no idea is a bad idea” rule
  2. Do a cost/benefit analysis of the top 10 ideas you come up with
  3. Test the best idea you generated. Be sure to set expectations for the test and track results rigorously

Even if your new idea isn’t a clear winner, you can sometimes test your way into success. Don’t give up. Refine the idea until it begins to show positive results or until it dies an ugly death.

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Posted by Jamie Turner, Founder of the 60 Second Marketer and co-author of “How to Make Money with Social Media” and “Go Mobile.He is also a popular marketing speaker at events, trade shows and corporations around the globe.