Innovation as a growth engine: more than new products

A Redbox kiosk located at a Walgreens store in...
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This is the third in a series of short posts related to The CMO Agenda research. Informed by recent CMO conversations and CMG Partners‘ collective experience helping top marketers develop marketing strategy, we have compiled a list of seven ideas or jump starters for further conversation. These are meant to spark discussion, ideas, and action as we all enter a difficult 2009.

For many companies, innovation means creating a new product, but this is only one of many potential growth drivers. As a lead marketer, your job is to get close to your customers and find other ways to innovate and deliver value – through service, new methods of distribution or new avenues of consumption.

How can you achieve this level of innovation?

A consistent and constant review of your business model and practices can reveal many new opportunities. In other organizations, culture is the driving force which allows for employees to surface new ideas. I recently heard from Jeffrey Phillips, VP of Sales and Marketing for OVO and author of Make us more Innovative. Jeffrey focuses primarily on innovation processes necessary to build a sustainable innovation capability.

Some examples of innovation:

A recent example of a innovative concept I heard was at an HVAC equipment manufacturer. The company leadership decided that they are in the “refrigerated air” business vs. the air conditioner product business. This shift is thinking has many different implications from R&D to value delivered. One idea for commercializing this concept is to sell the service of refrigerated air like a utility. This would increase the number of touchpoints with customers and involves a deeper understanding your customers’ businesses to deliver on this new business model. While this is an innovative idea, it has not been commercialized yet which should be the yardstick for actual innovation.

You need creativity and invention, but until you can connect that creativity to the customer in the form of a product or a service that meaningfully changes their lives, I would argue you don’t yet have innovation. – A.G. Lafley, CEO of P&G in a recent BusinessWeek Interview

Another example that has been commercialized and can be seen in a grocery store near you — Red Box.  Red Box has redefined the video store rental model and all for $1 per day per movie. (Disclaimer: I use and love Red Box.) Red Box has a great value proposition that makes it difficult for the troubled Blockbuster to compete and is now in the sights of the CEO at Netflix as he states they are the chief rival now.

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