With the growth of international competition, technology and eBusiness, consumers can find high quality products and services faster, cheaper and easier than ever before. Companies are facing extreme competitive pressures. To maintain a competitive edge, companies must continuously innovate. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, innovative companies are expected to grow 60% in the next five years, while 20% of such firms are on course to double the global average growth rate. Clearly, innovation helps to drive revenue growth, and a key player in such business innovation is the marketing team.
Marketers’ unique role of talking directly to consumers, listening to the market and telling a company’s story makes them a critical component in the business innovation process. The audience insights that marketers are able to uncover enables them to not only participate in innovation discussions at their companies, but also to take a leadership role in trailblazing new directions for a company’s future.
True innovation is groundbreaking. It creates a new reality for consumers. Think about the smartphone. Twenty years ago no one imagined carrying around a small computer in his or her pocket everyday. Nor did people think that by 2014, 166 million people in the United States would own smartphones (Source: comScore). However, Apple saw an opportunity. In 2007, Apple introduced its first multi-touch device and in 2014 it owned the largest percentage of US smartphone subscriber market share.
Did you know, though, that Nokia had a touchscreen prototype before the iPhone was launched? Even so, its market share was merely 3% by 2013. With Nokia’s head start, how did this happen? One of the underlying reasons was a lack of innovation leadership from Nokia’s marketing team. Without keen insights into what its audience would value, Nokia allowed Apple to leapfrog its position in the mobile phone market.
Marketers Are the Eyes and Ears of the Marketplace
Everyday marketers are examining the marketplace, keeping tabs on competitors and listening to customers. At the same time they are utilizing internal marketing, business and customer support data as well as external trends data. Putting all of this together, marketers have the ability to uncover new opportunities. They see where the market is going. With this information marketers can then work with a company’s R&D team to innovate current offerings and create new products and services.
Marketing Drives Customer Behavior
Often, new innovations change consumer behavior. For consumers to make a behavioral change, though, they need to understand “what’s in it for me.” This needs to happen even before a product is launched. GE’s mantra of “mindshare before market share” explains it perfectly. Create the need before the innovation. Marketers have the ability to connect with consumers and understand what will resonate with them before consumers even realize themselves that they want something new. Marketers are masters at creating that demand, giving businesses the perfect stage to launch innovations.
Innovation Involves The Right Kind of Risk
Risk is inherent in new ideas. There is always a fundamental risk to production, service, quality and effectiveness when any change to a company’s products or services is made, but marketers are adept at making calculated risks with a high probability of success. Marketers take risks everyday – it’s just part of their job. With real-time data they continually make adjustments to their approach and to their marketing campaigns based on customer responses. Their risks are meant to be calculated, thoughtful and backed by data. This all helps to make the risks they take “safer” and more likely to be enthusiastically received by a company’s customers.
Marketers Increase Business ROI
The ability to quickly respond to customers allows marketers to increase the ROI of a company’s innovation initiatives. Marketers create, amplify and maintain the buzz around a company’s new products and services. They create the messaging that is often the difference between consumer adoption and consumer rejection. They talk with consumers. They actively manage social media accounts, monitor online conversations and respond to online chatter. Marketers are at their desks getting in the nitty-gritty of their marketing data. They constantly make adjustments to campaigns in order to continually improve performance and increase ROI.
Marketers play a crucial role in business innovation. They are the fuel that creates and sustains excitement and interest. To increase revenue, stay ahead of the competition and succeed in today’s business environment, organizations need to reserve a seat at the innovation table for the marketing team. Are they at yours?
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Elizabeth Cagen is Director of Strategy & Operations at Stratabeat, a marketing strategy and design agency. With more than 10 years of marketing experience, Elizabeth has developed digital strategies for market leaders such as Intel, Staples, Merck, America’s Test Kitchen and Brooks Brothers during her career.