Innovation within marketing isn’t just done ‘from the top’. While it can be difficult to secure yourself time, resources and budget to be innovative with, there are steps you can take to jump on the right path.
This was the message being put out by vice president, solutions, of digital innovation agency Icreon Tech at day one of the Digital Marketing World Conference (#DMWF) in New York this week.
Steven Lamensdorf spoke to MarketingTech about his talk on marketers being at the epicenter of innovation, and shared some tips, guidance and thoughts on trends in marketing for the year ahead.
“What is applied innovation?” one might wonder, but it’s not too difficult of a concept to grasp.
“One of the main reasons companies fail at innovation is because they innovate for the sake of innovation,” Lamensdorf explained.
“They understand that if they do not innovate, the company will eventually become obsolete. But when you innovate for the sake of innovation it can lead you down a path that is not practical, that doesn’t incorporate the entire enterprise, that doesn’t start from leadership, and is not thought of in the present.
“Applied innovation is the idea that through a step by step innovation process you recognise the limitations, pursue the gaps, and define the opportunities that can actually be implemented in the present,” he added.
In other words, don’t innovate for the sake of it; and when you do so, do it for a reason and be smart about it.
How can marketers be innovative?
As we’ve mentioned above, it can be difficult for those in the marketing department to be innovative. Being pushed for time, demands such as revenue contribution and customers as well as budget limitations are some of the reasons why it’s so hard.
But Lamensdorf argues that marketers are “the most important and critical element” to the innovation process at a company, as they’re the only ones qualified to accurately paint a picture of who the customer really is.
We need to collect data, paint the picture, and understand the customer journey so that we as marketers can have our brand at the right place, at the right time
“I’m not talking about a fictional character such as a persona, but leveraging their data intelligence tools, analytics, and most importantly knowledge. In my presentation we discussed two main foundations for marketers. The first is ‘the consumer is boss’, and the second is ‘customers do not buy products or services, they hire them to get a job done’. The question for the marketer then becomes: if the consumer is my boss, and the boss wants to hire a cup of coffee, what jobs need to be done for the cup of coffee to satisfy the boss? This change in thinking leads you down a path to find unmet needs and opportunity gaps,” Lamensdorf said.
Innovation and the year ahead
While ‘innovation’ is in itself a broad term, there are many areas marketers should be looking toward for the year ahead.
One, Lamensdorf tells MarketingTech, are their own processes and procedures.
“Innovation doesn’t necessarily have to mean that we come out with the next big thing, it could be a process that is innovated that speeds up our operations and ultimately delivers us a profit lift on our bottom line. The answer to this question really is, as marketers, they need to be constantly thinking about innovation, and constantly asking a series of questions,” he said.
Of course, it is currently fashionable to recommend upcoming tech such as wearables and virtual and augmented reality – but Lamensdorf adds that focusing on being innovative in more practical areas will be just as beneficial to marketers.
An example of such an area would be how people connect both an online and offline world, and bridging the gap between the two for the customer. This starts with data management.
“We need to collect data, paint the picture, and understand the customer journey so that we as marketers can have our brand at the right place, at the right time, and at the right moment. I believe tech will support this connection.
“Right now it is still a pretty manual process to import offline data into our systems, but with the rise of beacons, cities adopting free WiFi, and most importantly, the consumer controlling brand engagement, I believe brands will have an opportunity to build seamless user experiences both online and offline,” Lamensdorf added.
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