You’d be hard pressed to find a company today that doesn’t define itself as innovative. Since innovation sounds impressive, everyone says it’s a priority. But, sometimes it helps to step back and define it. To me, innovation is an improvement to how something currently works or is done and can be either incremental or disruptive.
That last part is important because enterprises often get caught in the idea that all innovation needs to be disruptive. It’s easy for everyone – including us – to forget that much of it is incremental, and those small steps still contribute to success. We consider our partner marketing technology disruptive, as it replaces the old affiliate network model. Yet much of our tech development is incremental based on continuous customer feedback.
While some of these ideas may seem obvious on the surface, it’s always helpful to revisit the topic from a strategic POV. Here are three steps enterprises can take for better success.
The first step is to indentify areas in which your company wants to innovate. For some companies, product development may be more incremental. Toyota is a good example of incremental product development. They may not be doing anything disruptive or revolutionary, but every day, their products are getting better and better. Not every product can be the first iPhone, but there could be opportuities to be disruptive in other areas such as your marketing/advertising or company culture. Pick and chose the battles you want to fight.
Once you decide what your priorities are, it’s important to set clear expectations of what you want to acheive and by when. To me, this is one of the most important yet overlooked aspects of not just innovating but innovating successfully, which is all about ideation and execution. Innovating just for the sake of it may seem nice, but it only really makes sense if it actually works and if you derive tangible benefits for your customers. If you can’t execute properly, then an idea is just an idea.
Measure, Measure, Measure
The third step is to measure your progress against your defined expecatations. I’m a big believer that everything should be measured and optimized, and that the learning cycle never ends. This philosophy was really engrained in my mind during my time at Rocket Fuel. Because it’s an artificial intelligence-based technology, everything was always about optimizing. It’s okay to make some mistakes – that’s how you learn. Everything we do on the marketing side at Performance Horizon, we work to measure results to we can learn and improve.
Innovation in Partner Marketing
When it comes to partner marketing, we see a great desire amongst enterprises for disruptive solutions. Companies want to control who their marketing partners are and how they work together with them. They want to improve how they support their partners and how they actually generate not just revenues, but, more importantly, profitable revenues.
Travel brands, for example, want to work with partners that help them sell the most profitable tickets (long-haul flights, business class tickets) and reward them accordingly. That’s why we don’t just provide a platform, but also provide data collection and ingestion capabilities so that enterprises can make much smarter decisions and can gear their marketing programs around those decisions.
Innovating successfully is easier said than done. From a marketing perspective, I’ve always been inspired by the ” Crossing the Chasm” approach by Geoffrey Moore and his team. Crossing the chasm can be a challenge, but a good foundation comes with focus, good messaging and technology, and a strategic approach based on the above three steps.