INNOVATION THAT YOUR CUSTOMERS MIGHT ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT


I’ve been thinking about the new stuff that companies do.

Innovation. Too many projects in businesses are given that title. It devalues the word and what it should really mean. It leads to that sad statistic that 80% of new products launched don’t survive….which given companies are generally very risk adverse is a pretty pathetic hit rate.

Unfortunately most companies believe that implementing anything new is innovation, which is more a reflection of how difficult they make it to get stuff done rather than anything that would make a real person go “wow – that’s neat”.

That’s not to say that a whole range of things can’t build your business but if we are honest with each other most of it isn’t innovation. Try this simple categorisation test for the new stuff you or your company are working on:

CATEGORY 1Stuff your customers think you already do because you are behind the curve or is so obvious that you should do like….

  • An innovation CRM project that allows your company to know when a customer has called (all service companies want this and most don’t have it covered yet)
  • An innovation IT system that allows your company to see a single view of a customer (i.e. you know what products I have from you) (all the big banks want this but most don’t have it)
  • Servicing your account online or opting for e-statements (Barclaycard have been pushing this to their customers in the last year or so as they played catch up)

CATEGORY 2: Stuff your customers think you should do already like…..

CATEGORY 3: Stuff which customers recognise is new but don’t really care that much about like….

 

and finally if you have any left….

CATEGORY 4: Stuff which customers recognize is new and really want like…

  • A truly easy to use fusion mobile smartphone that moulds to your needs (the iPhone)
  • A drink which is 2 of your 5 day and tastes great (Innocent Smoothies)
  • Off-set mortgages (Virgin One Account – this was a real financial product innovation which gave a real benefit to some)
  • Hybrid cars (Toyota and Honda – true technological innovations)
  • LED lightbulbs (which replace 50W halogens with 4W almost never ending bulbs)
  • Widgets which gave a smooth pour from a can (can’t remember who launched this first Guinness? Boddingtons? – but it was an innovation that delivered a real benefit)
  • Wash and Go 2 in 1 shampoos (yes – even this was a true innovation which solved a customer need that of simplicity)

It’s the last category of course that are real innovations requiring significant investments and creative thinking rather than battling with internal restrictions and bureaucracy.

How much of what you are working on that is called “innovation” could really be placed in the last category? If it’s lots that’s great – I can’t wait for these new breakthroughs to get to market! If it’s lots in the other categories (as I suspect it will be) that’s not necessarily a bad thing but make sure you don’t believe your own “innovation hype”- because it’s your customers that really know whether what you’ve just launched is new, truly different and worthy of lasting.

As ever I would love to hear what you think. Get involved, share your ideas, comment below – every comment wins a personal thank you from me!

Hope “The Teenies” are treating you well!

Justin

Mail me: justin@basini.com
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Justin Basini

Entrepreneur, author of Why Should Anyone Buy From YOU?, blogger (www.basini.com), business, brand and marketing thinker and do-er, husband and dad

One thought on “INNOVATION THAT YOUR CUSTOMERS MIGHT ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT”

  1. Hi JB, glad to see you love the new halifax ad. 1 million new reward accounts in a year says that some consumers do care about the £5… anyway less of the defensive retort!!!…

    FYI the original widget was patented by Guinness in the 60's but was a technical failure (patent lapsed) before being picked up again by Guinnes sand refined for an 80's launch and again improved in the 90's. I think Boddies made it famous though, and maybe stole the thunder a little….

    oh – agree on your "category 4" I've been toying with the idea of joining the jesusphone revolution but waiting for the google nexus entry (clearly protecting their own advertising revenues and future). Strange to think that I got my first mobile in 96' and now couldn't live without it and can't remember what it's like without it. Same can be said for the crackberry and now I really need the full internet experience 24-7 in my pocket… how will it change my life?

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