I’m in an industry that hasn’t really kept up with the times. While the world around us has changed in breathtaking ways through a combination of shifting consumer preferences, digital technology and some huge human creativity, the wealth management business (for the most part) plods on. Sure, there are start-ups and upstarts, entirely new models that threaten to disrupt things, but the core marketplace of firms that have been around awhile is, frankly, collecting dust. As a marketer, I see that as a great challenge!

Some marketers think, “Who is our customer, who are our competitors, and what is our value proposition?” They take that information and build out a marketing platform. Here’s the problem: Especially in a mature industry, this approach almost guarantees a conservative, defensive face to the market. Remember travel agents? Just barely, right? They held a series of assumptions about their clients, their competition and what people really valued. They got it wrong, oops.

The power of assumptions

Marketing and strategy leaders can help transform industries by having the courage to challenge and change conventional wisdom. It is pivotal to create new assumptions. Famously, Starbucks believes it sells an experience, not coffee, and their marketing expresses that. Warby Parker, a company disrupting the eye glass business, had the audacity to question why fashionable eyewear had to be expensive and sold in stores, when it could be reasonably priced and tried at home. Their marketing tells that story in plain and simple terms. In both cases, these companies had a different view of their business than the competition, and they were able to shape what customers responded to. In short, they found the pulse of their customer and created an alternative that met needs people didn’t even know they had. Brilliant.

In financial services, most marketers assume we are in a serious business involving money, a “numbers business.” They assume clients need to see a lot of information and analysis, so financial plans and investment reports are very rational and detailed. There’s a lot of the same. But, what if we aren’t really in the numbers business? What if we are in the life business? If you woke up one day and decided that what you are really marketing is a lifestyle company, what would you do? That’s what I think about—having a different assumption about your business gets the creative juices flowing.

Who do you look at?

Where I work, we spend more time looking at companies outside our industry than we spend looking at competitors. Studying your direct competitors too much can be a waste of time; it’s almost like staring at yourself in the mirror. In a tightly-contested marketplace like financial services, everyone can look alike to consumers. Boring!

Instead, we are deeply curious about innovators in businesses that have nothing to do with us—companies like Zappos, Bonobos, Uber—that are clearly challenger brands. I also seek out companies from mature industries that are rethinking and retooling themselves. For example, at the new Hyatt Place you get a modern, business-friendly and attractive hotel at a cheap rate in a new category: the “upscale, select service brand.” Their whole operating model—from staffing to food services—was reinvented based on consumer research focused on Gen X travelers accustomed to multi-tasking. An old brand, Hyatt, looks young again. Consider Netflix, a successful start-up that killed video stores, and then almost died until it radically transformed itself. There is a ton to learn from these companies.

How does this curiosity benefit marketing? We can import concepts, like making it fun to do business, which Zappos teaches. We can rethink how our offices look and feel, and even the purpose of physical locations, just as Bonobos has eschewed stores for ”Guideshops” where people get advice on clothes but there are no cash registers or inventory for sale. We gain a lot of insights on consumers from fresh companies like Uber and Hyatt Place, and we are always following the use of visuals, voice and tone, as well as the marketing tactics these companies test.

Marketing as a champion of innovation

There is no reason that every industry—wealth management included—can’t improve innovation, and the marketing department has a big role to play. First, we need to identify the assumptions that hold our companies back, and instead, test new ones. When we do consumer research, we need to avoid the trap of only asking about what exists today, and instead inquire about possibilities of tomorrow. Do things need to be complicated or could they be simple? Is it possible to make serious business more fun? If it were more fun, would people buy more from you? If you changed how you do things, could you be cheaper, faster, more personalized? Do those things matter? The questions you can ask yourself, your clients and your prospects are endless.

Marketing is a lot more than packaging and promoting ideas and products. Taglines are great, but don’t start there. The best marketers I know call that fluff the frosting on the cake. The “cake” is knowing your market, customers and competitors inside and out, and having an informed point of view about where things are going in the larger world around you. Borrow shamelessly from insights you gain on the “outside” of your industry and become one of those marketers on the “inside” who is willing to test, learn and shape the future.