When it comes to dominating your market, innovation is a powerful strategy. Though many think of innovation as world changing, market shaping events, it has its roots in much smaller thoughts, actions and values.
Below are seven ways to help integrate innovation into your brand to drive success in your small business.
1. Know your target audience
Although knowing your audience is not innovative on its own, it is the foundation for innovative brands and businesses. From giants such as Apple, to small local businesses finding new uses for their existing products, innovation starts by knowing your ideal audience. From concerns and preferences to daily habits and lifestyles, understanding what drives the decisions your audience makes will help to position your brand as an innovator in your niche. Instead of simply determining what your market is doing, figure out why it is doing it.
2. Address problems within your niche
Innovative companies do not create products and services, they create solutions. The most powerful information sources on issues within your niche are early adopters and regular customers. However, failing to address those on the fringe of your market could result in missed opportunities as well. Social media, market research and email marketing are all great ways to engage your audience, discover ideas and start the innovation process.
3. Analyse everything
Innovative brands never settle. While many businesses and brands are busy analysing their failures, innovative companies analyse everything. Sometimes, why a product, service or campaign was successful is just as important as why a venture failed. Treat every interaction, decision and process as an opportunity to learn and grow your brand, and innovation is sure to follow. From market research and customer reviews to sales reports and market trends, any piece of information could hold the secret to your next great concept.
4. Encourage communication (and actually listen)
Innovative brands understand that any idea could be the great concept. From the bottom of the ladder to the owner of the company, that great idea could come from anyone. Encouraging open communication between partners, employees and other brand participants is a great way to spur innovation. However, encouraging communication is not enough. Discuss ideas and concerns, offer constructive criticism and encourage collaboration. By showing that you value contributions, you will create a foundation for increased communication and thinking within your brand. Communication is the key to converting a single worthwhile idea to turn into many innovative avenues.
5. Don’t be afraid to borrow
While blatantly stealing ideas from the competition is a quick way to doom your brand, you should never be afraid to borrow good ideas and put your own spin on them. Mixing up concepts or applying your own spin on an idea to address different needs and concerns, are great ways to drive innovative thinking and position your brand for success. Doing so can also catch the competition off-guard and leave them playing catch-up while you take over the market.
6. Commit to your brand
Behind every innovative concept and break-through brand is a long string of failed ideas, concepts and ventures. Without total commitment to your brand and an innovative atmosphere, the chances of success decline drastically. Innovative brands are not always the first to do something or have the best ideas; they were the brands and companies that stuck with the idea from start to finish with unwavering commitment and executed their idea better than the competition.
7. Use your strengths to overcome the competition
Brands are not built by one person alone. They are a combination of skill sets, approaches and ideas that combine to form something greater than their singular parts. Once the brainstorming is finished, the research is complete and the plans are created, optimize your execution and impact by utilizing your brand’s strengths. This will improve efficiency, strengthen your brand and help to position your brand and its offerings ahead of the competition. While trying to do it all yourself might appear faster, more affordable or more efficient in the beginning, this is rarely the case.
Innovation is much more than simply being in the right place at the right time, or having the next world changing idea. Truly successful and innovative brands create a culture of innovation within their businesses and instill it in everything they do. These seven strategies offer ways to encourage innovation within your brand to help establish your brand as a leader in your niche and stay ahead of the competition.
How are you creating a culture of innovation in your business? Share your experiences below.