Many businesses fail to realize that they are not in a single business, but are actually in two. First, they’re in the business of working on products and services that will help solve their clients’ problems and help them achieve their goals today.
But that’s only half of the picture. They’re also in the business of innovating to ensure that they’re solving client problems and helping them hit goals next year, in two years, in three years, etc.
You Need to Be in the Business of Innovation
Innovation is essential, and whether you like it or not, you need to be in the business of innovation. If you’re not, you’ll fall behind. The most successful businesses transform what they do in order to achieve domination over the decades.
Wipro started by selling vegetable oil and over time morphed into an $8 billion IT conglomerate.
Apple started out selling personal computers and is now in the business of mobile phones, tablets, apps, entertainment, digital ecosystems, etc.
Amazon started out by selling books online. Today, it sells just about any consumer item you can imagine, along with being an entertainment hub and a leader in the cloud storage space (Amazon reported revenue of $7.7 billion for AWS in its latest fiscal quarter).
Miller Brewing company started brewing beer, got hit by Prohibition, switched to making malted products, and then pivoted back again to beer once Prohibition was over.
The most successful brands innovate, pivot, and shift in order to keep succeeding year after year after year. They identify strategic opportunities and then focus their efforts on innovating toward those opportunities.
The same should be true of your business, and in particular, your marketing. The simple truth is that the marketing tactics that have worked in the past for you are not going to get you where you need to go in the future.
Innovate Ahead Of The Curve
Imagine if you were going “all in” on SEO back in the early days of Google. Or if you were the first to do paid search advertising when it first came out. Or site retargeting. Or webinars. Or podcasts, email marketing, or LinkedIn video. You probably would have crushed it, as none of your competitors would have been on the scene yet.
The reality is that being ahead of the curve — being the first to innovate in a particular direction, gives you a distinct advantage. There’s significantly less competition, you present something new and novel to your audience, and you have the ability to learn what’s effective and what’s not before anyone else does. Innovation allows you to capture market share before anyone else.
By being on the leading edge of marketing innovation, you stand out from the crowd. On the flip side, if you wait too long, you get lost in the crowd. As soon as any marketing tactic proves that it works, everyone starts doing it, making much it more difficult to differentiate yourself.
Focus Your Efforts
When it comes to B2B marketing, there is no shortage of new technology and tactics. You could invest your efforts in a dozen different initiatives, from LinkedIn videos to personalization to conversational marketing to micro-influencers to interactive content. All of these things have the potential to produce results.
But trying to do everything never produces great results.
The problem is that when you try to do everything, you produce mediocre outcomes. Instead of doing one or two things really well, you end up doing 15 things that produce “meh” results.
The reality is that you shouldn’t feel the need (nor should you try) to do everything that’s new. The more you scatter your efforts, the less successful you’ll be.
Instead, focus on innovating in a few areas where you can dominate. Much like a magnifying glass focuses light to produce an intense ray of heat, so you should focus your energies on the few things that will produce “heat” for your business. You need to figure out what works for you, then double down on those areas. Are you going to dominate in interactive content? Or augmented reality? Or digital personalization?
Dabbling doesn’t work. It dilutes your attention, depletes your resources, and doesn’t ultimately move the needle. You work at a frenetic pace while achieving very little.
When it comes to innovation, identify the few things that will get you 10x results and then double down on those things. When you focus on the marketing levers that really matter, your team is less stressed, more productive, and your marketing will be much more successful.
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Tom Shapiro oversees and manages Stratabeat, which provides branding, design & marketing services that drive client revenue growth. Stratabeat operates on the foundation that strategic thinking is the heartbeat of everything the agency does for clients. Services include marketing strategy, branding, web design, web development, SEO, PR, and conversion optimization.