3 Ways your small business can be more innovative
New innovative ideas are not something reserved exclusively for creative types. While it can be more difficult for some businesses to innovate than others, here are three ways your small business can develop innovative business ideas.
1. Find new ways to use what is already around you. Many people think that to be successful at business innovation, you have to be inventive. The truth is you don’t have to invent something new or find a completely innovative way to market it. Look around you for ideas. How can you use an existing product in a new way? What is a new way to use your existing product or service? When you see other companies execute an innovative marketing strategy, even if it’s not a company in your industry (especially if it’s not in your industry) think about how you can tweak that strategy for your small business. But be careful! Think about the times when you’ve seen one business take a marketing strategy or advertisement that worked well in one industry and copy it nearly exactly into another? It doesn’t work that easily. You will have to adapt the message to what matters to your target market.
2. Take action. It’s impossible to know if any new idea will work. The unknown prevents many people from trying something new. Rather than letting fear paralyze you, see if you can find ways to exercise innovation management by testing your idea or implementing it in a small way. Or, take the beginning steps towards implementing your idea while continuing to think about the end steps. You might change your mind and decide to change course. Or, you might discover that your new idea isn’t so scary after all, and you will be that much further ahead of your competitors.
3. Believe it can work. As a marketer that has worked with many risk-averse professional service providers and small business owners, I know that this can be a challenge. My clients are often the types of people who are successful because of their ability to anticipate problems, question everything and follow the rules. However, this type of thinking must be temporarily suspended or your company will only engage in marketing by imitation or “safe” tactics, which generally prove to be less effective.
Remember that if you say and do the same things as your competitors, your prospective customers won’t be able to tell you apart. And when a prospect can’t use your marketing messages and unique points of differentiation to tell you apart from your competitors, they will judge you based on the factors the DO understand. Suddenly, the quality of your food is judged based on the quality of your website, even though your chef and your website developer are not the same people. The quality of your legal or accounting services is based on the friendliness of your receptionist or the attention to grammar in your blog, even though your receptionist and your marketing manager are not writing legal briefs or preparing taxes.
If you want to get noticed (and judged on what really matters), you need to be differentiate yourself from the competition. It might be a challenge, but if you push yourself, any entrepreneur can transform their business into an innovation factory.
Want more ideas on how to create a marketing plan? Check out 5 Factors that must be part of your small business marketing strategy and What’s your small business marketing plan.