It would be difficult to look back through history and identify a more dynamic business environment than we are experiencing today. While current events (economic, supply chain, labor force, etc.) create many business challenges, they also present amazing opportunities for those companies who can innovate at a faster rate than their competitors.
When a company innovates to provide greater client value than their competitors, it is not only possible to establish industry leadership, but the companies who successfully do this can also create a powerful and impactful competitive advantage.
After 25+ years helping our clients create a more meaningful brand through continuous innovation, we’ve seen first-hand the impact this can achieve, and we understand what this takes. In this article, we are going to outline a roadmap and some critical keys to help your company drive continuous innovation. By effectively following this roadmap, you will be positioned to enjoy increased leadership within your industry. When messaged and communicated well, this can be a true marketplace competitive advantage.
Discontinuous Innovation vs. Dynamically Continuous Innovation
Discontinuous innovation is a far more difficult task than dynamically continuous innovation. Discontinuous innovation is defined as the creation of something which is entirely new to the world. It is a product made to perform a function for which no other product has previously existed. The largest challenge with this type of innovation or invention is that it requires a lot of education and a complete change in consumer behavior to adopt the new technology.
Conversely, many of the most successful companies in the world, like Uber, Apple, and Google, have used dynamically continuous innovation to create leadership within their industries. Dynamically continuous innovation can be defined as creating a fundamental change in the core features of a service or product, where the same people use it for the same purpose.
One example of this is the creation of liquid soap. People have been using soap to wash up for thousands of years. But, in 1865 one of the first patents for a liquid soap was filed. Using soap was not a new concept for people. Liquid soap was just a different form of the product that they were used to using.
Another example is Apple. Apple did not invent the mobile phone or even the smart phone. The first mobile phone was invented in 1973 by Motorola. The first smart phone was the IBM Simon. Introduced in 1994, it was a cellular phone that had a calendar, email, and fax (yes fax) functions. However, when Apple introduced the first iPhone in 2007, this represented a fundamental change to the core features of what a mobile phone had ever been. This catapulted Apple into a position of extreme industry leadership, created a true competitive advantage, and propelled them to become the world’s first $1 trillion (and $2 trillion) company.
Keys To Successful Continuous Innovation
If your goal for continuous innovation is to create industry leadership and an impactful competitive advantage, there are four critical considerations.
1. Will Your Innovation Create Customer Value?
This concept sounds simple enough, but there are many aspects to consider when making this evaluation. Some of general questions you must evaluate for successful continuous innovation include:
- Will your innovation solve a true, large enough customer pain point?
- Will customers understand how to use your innovation?
- Will your customers understand the benefits of your innovation?
- Will customers do what it takes to adopt your innovation?
- Is your innovation easy to adopt or is it too difficult?
- Will customers pay what it costs for your innovation?
2. Do You Have the Resources Needed for the Innovation?
Even with the best innovation idea in the world, successful continuous innovation is extremely challenging. If you are already running a successful business and offering existing products or services, continuous innovation usually has to occur as you are providing these other services. Some of the critical resources required for successful continuous innovation include:
- Time – You must allocate a lot of precious company resources to something that may or may not work out.
- Clarity – You must understand exactly what you are going to create, who it is for, what it will do, and the specific success measures of your innovation.
- Expertise – Your team must possess the skills, intelligence, ingenuity, and ability to create your innovation.
- Discipline – Without the discipline to approach innovation with specific goals, insights, resource allocations, timelines, and documented success measures, you have a very low likelihood of success.
3. Can You Successfully Market the Innovation?
Let’s say that you create the next best thing since sliced bread (first introduced July 7th, 1928 – humans have been eating bread for 30,000+ years). You must have the means to successfully bring your innovation to market.
Working with many highly innovative companies at Webolutions, we get to see and experience all the challenges that this can bring. Quite often, this boils down to effective messaging, communications and marketing. Many companies get so caught up in the technicalities of their innovations that they want to market it based on the features that they have built into it. This is not effective messaging, communications or marketing.
We cannot emphasize this point enough:
The secret to successfully marketing any new innovation is to effectively communicate to the end user how your innovation is going to materially benefit them.
To illustrate, let’s go back to the sliced bread example. If I were Otto Frederick Rodwedder, the man who invented the first bread slicing machine, I would need to go around trying to sell my new machine to bakeries. Would I be better of telling the bakery owner that my machine uses a #7 slicing width wire to slice the bread or that he can double his sales volume, create a competitive advantage over all the other bakers in town, and charge 20% more for his bread? The answer is obvious.
Another challenge with marketing an innovation is that the marketplace is changing faster than ever. To be successful, you must determine if you have the resources (time, money, expertise, etc.) to effectively market your innovation while it is still highly relevant. Larger competitors may create a competing product, the market might change, or other factors may make your innovation less relevant. You must understand how you will successfully market your innovation before spending valuable resources to create it.
Dynamically Continuous Innovation Using the Scientific Method
As you continuously innovate, you can borrow from the world of science. Applying the “scientific method,” we have used these steps as a roadmap for your company to continuously innovate. Below each step, we have added the questions and considerations to help you achieve success.
1. Make an observation.
- These are our clients’ biggest business challenges.
- This is what our clients are extremely passionate about.
- These are the trends that will most impact our industry in the next 5 years.
2. Ask a question.
- What can we successfully continuously innovate that will address one of the questions above and create extreme value for our clients?
3. Form a hypothesis, or testable explanation.
- If we are able to create XYZ, our clients will love this, it will elevate them, and we will create a true marketplace competitive advantage.
4. Make a prediction based on the hypothesis.
- This will cost us X resources over X time to implement
- We will effectively be able to reach X% of an X size market in X time who will purchase this
- We can sell this for $X
- This will result in X for our company
5. Test the prediction.
- Survey clients – Are your predictions correct?
- Market research – Has someone else or is someone else doing this? Is your innovation better?
- Create a minimal viable product and test your theories
- Specific user focus groups – Does your message resonate? Do they see value?
6. Iterate: use the results to make new hypotheses or predictions.
- Adjust and refine your product
- Adjust and refine your message and marketing
- Adjust and refine your predictions to create a more realistic success model
Continuous Innovations at Webolutions
Webolutions has launched many successful continuous innovations. These innovations are at the core of the value we create for our clients and represent the unique intellectual property which gives us a competitive advantage over other companies in our industry. Some of these successful continuous innovations include our:
- Collaborative ROI Projection Model – A system that uses established performance data, historic benchmarking, vertical-by-vertical insights and seasonality variables to collaborate and develop an optimized (best ROI possible) marketing strategy to achieve our clients’ specific marketing goals.
- Custom Enhanced WordPress Platform™ – Our unique set of standards and web development best practices that produce websites which outperform in:
- The ease our clients enjoy when managing their website content
- Their ability to rank vastly higher in search engine results
- Their ability to convert far more visitors into clients
- GrowthVitals™ EKG – Our SAAS solution that helps our clients build stronger organizations by providing alignment and team engagement strategies. Using this cloud-based solution, our clients’ teams:
- Align on a compelling and inspiring company vision
- Understand and report their performance on specific role responsibilities
- Enjoy complete alignment on annual company growth initiatives
- Recognize and celebrate other team members exemplifying the company core values
Webolutions is a full-spectrum business consulting and strategic growth implementation company. We help businesses across the country identify and effectively bring their unique story life throughout all experiences, allowing them to scale faster, smarter, and easier.
Our specific areas of expertise include:
- Differentiating Brand Development
- Marketing & Communications Strategies
- Customer Journey Planning & Implementation
- Enterprise Website & Application Development
- Systems Integration
- Organizational Development Strategies
- Team Alignment & Performance Solutions
- Business Performance Intelligence Systems
A Special Offer
To speak with one of our experts about how you can more effectively message, communicate, and market your company’s continuous innovation for your company of at least $5 million in annual sales, call us at 303-300-2640 and request a free marketing innovation consultation. During this 60-minute introduction, we discuss your specific needs, share ideas and insights, and help you start outlining your plan. You can also email any questions to email@example.com.