Archive for: December, 2013

Customers don’t care if you’re innovative or not


Pop-Tarts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They don’t care about your business strategy, your marketing strategy, your supply chain, your approach to human resources; nothing.

They also don’t care about your latest innovation program. And, unless you’re Apple, they don’t care about your latest product extension. Seriously, they don’t.

A recent post on the Wall Street Journal has pretty much put it in perspective how executives are looking at innovation the wrong way: something that is innovative to them, not the customer.

Basically, the Wall Street Journal article shines a light on how diluted the definition of innovation has become. It’s become a marketing ploy. Before I addressed this here, a couple of bloggers beat me to it. Both addressed the mindlessness thinking that the article uses as an example. You should read both their posts (here and here).

Of course, innovation is a buzzword, this isn’t new. But seriously, the example they used in the article is common across many industries. The way companies want to innovate, or the reason they are investing in it, is because they are playing not to lose by out-featuring competitors.

Reactive mindset, not proactive.

When they act this way, they forget a very important principle about marketing: people don’t remember specific features, they remember the experience they had. Companies are confusing a product upgrade with innovation, and to believe that changing one thing is enough to make a splash is short-term-ism at its finest.

I love Pop-Tarts, but a different flavor of Pop-Tarts is not an innovation.

Innovation What Not To Do: Asking the two deadliest words in business

no permission needed to innovate A few days ago I mentioned that I had been receiving a lot of inquiries about developing an innovation capability, cultural development, and why this matters to avoid systemic failure. My post touched upon feedback as the shortest path to innovation and how people need it to learn.

This is the essence of agility, the ability to move quicker, learn faster, understand what works and doesn’t, and shift direction if needed. In the world that big organizations live in, agility is not business as usual. Rather, life inside a large organizations feels like you are going backwards, not forward.

Inside large organization’s, the common obstacle innovator’s have to overcome to get traction is getting permission to innovate. Of course, in a perfect world innovation shouldn’t require permission, but we don’t live in that perfect world. So, most of the time, permission won’t be granted.

What innovation and customer loyalty have in common

Customer loyalty. Oh my, today it is as important as the topic of innovation. Customer loyalty is the key to profitability. The reason is simple: It costs more to acquire a new customer than to keep a current one. Without customer loyalty, customers leave.

I’ve had the opportunity to work with companies of all sizes, from scrappy startups to large multinationals. And while there are many differences between them, there is one distinction that trumps them all: their attitude towards existing keeping customers.