Building an innovation strategy
Keep your brand relevant by creating an innovation strategy that can lay the groundwork for successful product or service reinventions.
If you're just entering the market, you might think it's too early for an innovation strategy. Or if your business has a solid sales volume, you may wonder if you'll ever need one. But every business plan should anticipate the need for updated products or services.
Periodic enhancements and improvements might be all your business needs, so don't feel pressured to develop a brand-new product or service every year.
Instead, develop an innovation strategy that will help your company stay fresh, anticipate customers' changing needs, and maintain a competitive edge.
Update products and services
Making small incremental changes to your products or services can help you stay relevant to customers.1 Involve your existing customers in the process. Send a survey to your mailing list and ask how you can add value to your offerings.
Customers may be looking for:
Bundled offerings:2 Package your most popular products or services together for customer convenience.
Customization:3 Expand your product line or service offerings to give customers new color, design, and personalization options.
Expert support:4 Don't just sell your products or services. Teach customers how they can benefit from them with in-store demonstrations and online how-to tips.
Test improved products and services before rolling them out so you don't lose money or customers over changes that turn out to be unpopular. By talking with customers, you can update your offerings effectively — with the add-ons they want, and without confusion or backlash about the changes.5
Innovation doesn't just pertain to evolving products or services. You can also save time and money — and pass those savings on to your customers — by reassessing your operations and processes.
Identify ways to improve your operations by asking yourself:6
Could this process by streamlined with new technology?
Are my employees performing redundant or unnecessary tasks?
Which steps take the most time and money?
Ask your employees and customers for feedback as well. They may notice inefficiencies that youve missed or have other ideas for improvements.
If you can find ways to make buying from your business more convenient and affordable, customers will appreciate the change.
As you consider how to improve your offerings and update your processes, conduct the same rigorous market research and testing as you did for your original products, services, and operations. Making strategic updates takes times and analysis, but it can also ensure your business keeps up with competitors and customer demand.
1 "Incremental Innovation Vs. Radical Innovation." Incrementalinnovation.com. http://www.incrementalinnovation.com/incremental-innovation/incremental-innovation-vs-radical-innovation
2 "10 Ways That You Can Add Value to Your Product or Service." Social Media Today. (2011) http://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/10-ways-you-can-add-value-your-product-or-service-0
3 "Having It Their Way: The Big Opportunity In Personalized Products." Forbes. (2013) http://www.forbes.com/sites/baininsights/2013/11/05/having-it-their-way-the-big-opportunity-in-personalized-products/
4 "How to Add Value to Your Products or Services." Inspirationfeed.com. (2012) http://inspirationfeed.com/articles/business/how-to-add-value-to-your-products-or-services/
5 "Growing your business." GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/growing-your-business/improve-your-products-and-services
6 "4 Steps for an Effective Business Process Improvement Cycle." eXplorance. http://www.explorance.com/blog/2013/10/8-steps-effective-business-process-improvement-cycle/