as a constant
is an essential part of keeping your business ahead of your
competitors. And it needn't be an expensive process. Sometimes
a small but thoughtful change to the way that you serve your
customers can reap large rewards. Here are a
few tips ...
ideas for innovation can seem daunting at first, but there are
excellent sources of ideas available to you - you just need to use
your eyes and ears.
talking to your customers, staff and suppliers and asking open
questions around "how can we do this better?" will often generate a
wealth of ideas. If you are unfortunate enough to get customer
complaints, once you've sorted them out, examine them for service
improvement options. Similarly take a regular look at what your
competitors are doing. Maybe you could take a process they use
and make it even better when applied to your customers.
look at how companies in completely different industries to yours
deal with their customers. As an individual and as a business
you are a customer to many other suppliers ... any good ideas
there? Don't be afraid to copy.
easy to discount new ideas on face value alone. "It'll never
work in this industry!"
sometimes it's the ideas that most people pooh-poohed that change
competitive positions dramatically. Take selling groceries
over the internet as an example. Tesco.com is now one of the
world's highest revenue generating websites, yet many in the food
retail industry believed that it would never happen because shoppers
wanted to handle their groceries prior to purchase. "They'll
never trust you to send them the freshest and best!".
an innovation might seem to be taking on a high risk, but an
excellent way to test the idea before investing a lot of time
and money is a proof of concept pilot. So, for example, if
your idea was to confirm all shipments of the goods purchased
on your website by an SMS text message, you could try it out
initially with just a select few customers and closely check their
reaction. Depending upon volume, this could be done manually
from a normal mobile phone handset until you are sure that the
customers value the service.
the best innovations are the simplest. Simple for you to enact and
simple for the customers to accept. Richer Sounds, a chain of
hi-fi shops, had the idea of offering customers a colour-coded
sticker when they entered a shop, on a self-service roll. The
customers could choose from phrases like "Leave me alone, I'm
browsing", "I'm not sure what I want, please help me" and "I know
what I want and I'll ask when I want it!".
staff were trained to respect the stickers. This gave the
customers more confidence to come into a highly technical (and
daunting) environment without the fear being pounced upon by over
eager sales people. The system worked well and footfall
The key to
this innovation was understanding some of the mindset of customers
and providing a really simple
and working pragmatically like this will help you to make
your marketing work better for you in a more memorable way.
This means that your target customers will be able to differentiate
your products and services from those of your competitors and
clearly see the value in buying from you.
If you would like some advice on memorable
marketing techniques for your own business, or you know someone
at another business who might need help, then please contact us. The sooner you start, the sooner you will benefit.
Download this handy guide which explains how to
pick up on opportunities for innovation and where to get new ideas
from in order to improve business
the Chartered Institute of Marketing as part of
their Directors' Briefing series, this document makes easy
reading for business people of all experience
free service to small businesses in the Buckinghamshire, Berkshire
and Oxfordshire area, the Marketing Effectiveness Assessment
delivers a professional audit of how a business is using the tools
of marketing to communicate to existing and potential customers. It
also includes a series of simple and cost-effective marketing
activities that the business can implement immediately and at low
Download the factsheet now.
Chartered Institute of Marketing
Marketing UK (information portal)
Marketing Profs (free articles)