Dare to Innovate

Dare to Innovate

What’s the take-away idea?  Innovate in small ways.  List 10 ways you can do better for the customer.  A more welcoming invoice, a direct line to help them, a faster courier, a voucher for next time….for example.  Then implement the top 3.

In this article, I share insights on how the clever use of marketing can harness innovation.

The horseless carriage.  The virtual music store.  The most brilliant innovations come from entrepreneurs who are constantly challenging themselves to be better.  The greatest ideas can be remarkably simple, but how do you innovate?

Creativity is abut harnessing your imagination to produce new ideas.  Innovation is about putting those new ideas to work.  Innovation does not have to cost a fortune in either time or money terms.  Nor does innovation have be overly complex.  In fact, it should be kept simple..

Your first step to being innovative is to question everything:

What are we doing?
How are we doing it?
Why are we doing it?

Innovation can be divided into two parts.  The first part says that innovation is about designing an entirely new product or service.  The second part of innovation involves process:  how the product or service is delivered to the end user.

Changing or improving how you deliver to market is less costing and often less risky form of innovation and it can pay dividends.

Research shows that customers will pay 30-50 percent more for goods or services where the perceived service quality is excellent.  A superb customer experience depends on excellent process.  It is about how quickly you respond to online order, how effectively you deal with a complaint, how user-friendly your website is, how empathetic, informed and proactive your people are on the front line.

Innovation starts with your customers. You must continually adapt your model to suit their ideals, their values, their needs.  Customers must believe that what they get is great value for money.  Not necessarily cheap, but worth the money.  So the whole experience in dealing with your business from first glance to final purchase must be inspiring.  Seek continual feedback from customers about how you are doing.  You could use focus groups, online surveys or follow-up calls to get a pulse view on how you are doing.

If you can identify exactly what your target customer need, then you can find innovative ways to satisfy those needs.  Try becoming a customer of your own business for a day.  Question how easy it is to become a customer.  Is any part of the process off-putting?  Your research should product a list of action points.  These areas for improvement, if carefully though out can become small innovation nuggets to help you improve both your customer’s experience and your competitive advantage.

Innovation takes your business from ordinary to extraordinary, from business as usual;’ to ‘business unusual’.  The marketing blogger Seth Godin says that the opposite of remarkable is not bad or lousy, but very good.  Most people are delivering very good products and service in their markets.  ‘Very good is an everyday occurrence, hardly worth mentioning.’  ‘Remarkable’ is not about completely changing the services you offer,

Continually ask challenging questions about your approach to customers such as: How can make doing business with us a happy experience for our customers?  How do we rewards custom loyalty?  How do we showcase our products or service in a compelling way?

There are hundreds of examples of how businesses use innovation to win in the market:  Rowntree decided which of four KitKat chocolate bars to launch, where customer voted on their favourite flavor through an online campaign.  Zappos.com facilitates free shipping for customer returning their shoes in the US.  O2 focuses astutely on customer loyalty and retention, by providing O2 treats.

It’s not just the corporate companies that use innovation to win loyal customers.  The Irish cream liqueur company Coole Swan has a loyal client base worldwide and has won awards for its delicious and innovative mix of core ingredients, which include whiskey, chocolate and ream.

Sugru, the makers of a patented flexible silicone rubber, invite users and fans of the product to post images on Sugru.com of how they use the product to fix chairs, mend cameras, tidy leas, hang components and generally repair or improve things.  ABC Nutrition, winners of the Exporter of the Year 2011 targeted the global ‘grey’ market with a product that improves arterial health and blood pressure.

You could use your own YouTube Channel to profile your business, or innovative packaging to attract attention or you could take Mandarin classes and export to china.

The environment in which we do business is a highly contents and rather narrow pool fo customers.  Margins are tighter, customers are more frugal and your competitors are more determined than ever.  Your objective is to find new ways to make customer happy.  Your mission is to dare to innovate.

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