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




Everyone can innovate

It's been recently said that "innovation is now one of the most effective ways of generating a competitive advantage".  I agree.

Always looking for something better

Our busy advertising-driven consumer lives, bolstered by an information tool like the internet, means that we have evolved greater sophistication in what and how we buy.  We tend to treat more and more products and services as pure commodities, where price is the key determinant.  Knowing that a supplier offers a 'good' price for something is no longer enough to keep them competitive, because we already know where we can find the 'best' price. Or the 'best' delivery time, or the 'best' this or 'best' that.

To stay competitive means that you either have to be the 'best' in one competitive category, like price, or be sufficiently different to be recognised as delivering superior benefits to your customers.

Becoming the 'best' and defending that position when you are a small company is very difficult.  Whatever you set your price at, there's always someone, normally bigger or maybe just desperate, who'll undercut you.  Besides which, it's really difficult to make good profits when you're the lowest price supplier in a market.

I find that it's always better to be different.  And the key to creating that difference is innovation ... taking an existing product or service and making changes that customers will recognise as delivering new or improved benefits.

Customers are the judge ... and jury

There are a number of factors that contribute to successful innovation in small companies. Being customer needs oriented is one, and so is having some 'fanatics' on the payroll (people with the belief and passion to drive through changes).  A project that has low early costs is much more desirable than one that requires a massive financial  'leap of faith'.

But the most important factor is the acceptance that the innovation might not work as well as you'd like.  In fact it might not work at all (remember the new flavoured Coca Cola?).  And if it does fail, you'll learn from that and make the next innovation better.  The fear of failure is the most common cause of a lack of innovation and ultimately a diminution in competitiveness.

Getting the ideas for an innovation project can seem to be a major problem.  But there are some excellent sources.  Your staff are a good start as are your competitors.  Try looking at other industries and see how they do things.  Finally, talk to your customers.  They are the judge and jury of whether an innovation improves your attraction to them or not, so finding out what they think is always useful. 

But remember that there may well be some of your customers who are less receptive to change than others, so be careful to phase in innovative changes at the appropriate pace for each customer.

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.


The Creative Dilemma

Download this handy guide which explains some of the latest thinking on how to get the best from your marketing in order to improve business effectiveness.

Written by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as part of their Shape The Agenda 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.


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Chartered Institute of Marketing

Marketing UK (information portal)


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