Memorable marketing solutions exclusively for small businesses in Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire   Mar 2008

 

 

 

Innovation as a constant

Innovation 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 ...

Look and listen first

Getting 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.

Regularly 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.

Finally, 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.

Nurture ideas

It's very easy to discount new ideas on face value alone.  "It'll never work in this industry!"

Yet 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!".

Implementing 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.

Keep it simple

Many times 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!".

The sales 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 increased.

The key to this innovation was understanding some of the mindset of customers and providing a really simple solution.

Memorable marketing

Thinking 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.

 

Innovation

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 effectiveness.

Written by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as part of their Directors' Briefing series, this document makes easy reading for business people of all experience levels.

 

Marketing Effectiveness Assessment

A 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 cost.

Download the factsheet now.

 

Useful Links ...

Adduce Marketing

Chartered Institute of Marketing

Marketing UK (information portal)

Marketing Profs (free articles)