Innovation-Driven Marketing vs. Marketing-Driven Innovation
Is your company adding value or are you pretending and trying to make a name for yourself?
Why do I ask this question?
Well, it is 2019 and the world we live in is becoming more and more advanced each day that passes. If you look at all the new innovations, digital platforms, technologies, cryptocurrencies, and the whole internet of things, you’ll soon realize that everything has one thing in common: users.
If users are really top of mind for everything you do in our company, shouldn’t that mean that you make sure that all of your efforts are to drive better engagement, better service, better products, and more value to your users and customers?
That is the goal of your company right – to add value? Or are you operating with the goal of becoming the next trillion-dollar company? Amazon’s goal was not to become a trillion-dollar company. Their goal has been and still is to be the earth’s most customer-centric company! Their company work principles do start with customer obsession, leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust.
Every company seems to have the desire to innovate, just look at how many organizations created an innovations team. Most to ‘prove they’re innovating’ or ‘putting a focus on innovation’. Yes, they may be hiring innovation managers but that doesn’t mean that any innovating is getting done. And, on top of that, why go out and hire a whole team of ‘innovators’ when innovating is something that every employee could do?
According to the business dictionary, it’s the process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay.
There are many different ways that innovation can be defined. Here at DDX, and based on the trust economy, we define innovation as, a man-made positive change to reality with commercial impact for a majority of people.
Now, I would like to say that innovation does not always equate to big revenue. As you go through this short article keep in mind that innovation is about creating new ways to add value and that value could be monetary, advantage, or effectiveness.
According to the business dictionary, it’s the management process through which services and goods from concept to customer. Including coordination of 4 elements: Product, Price, Place, Promotional Strategy.
Similar to innovation, there are a lot more ways to define marketing, but I like to say that marketing is all about promoting products or services to gain traction and support sales channels through proper communication.
Now, I would like to say that marketing usually is focused on promoting products that could potentially sell more (generate more revenue). Which is why many companies kill products if they don’t see enough growth over a certain timeframe.
Innovation is to drive marketing? Is that what I mean? Well, yes.
I don’t mean that you should slice all of the marketing budgets for 2019. What I do mean is that any and all companies should be putting more focus on innovating, optimizing, and adding value over spending XX% of the yearly budget on marketing campaigns that are meaningless.
Honestly, how many leads are actually generated from all those campaigns anyway? I get that brand awareness is important but there should still be a healthy balance between sustaining and innovating. If the goal is to just ‘promote’ the brand name without promoting a high-value proposition, product or service, you better re-evaluate your campaigns before spending a dollar more.
In this ever-changing world, playing catch-up is not an option. If you are late to the party, you might as well have stayed home. Competitors are innovating better and faster than ever before. Startups are taking over faster than corporations can build a website.
If your competitors have built it, that doesn’t mean that you should automatically pour thousands upon thousands of dollars into building the same exact thing with the goal of ‘building it better’. Building something better doesn’t always mean it will be of value to YOUR customers.
I urge you to really think about the below questions and answer them before going forward with projects and campaigns.
- What drives your marketing campaigns?
- What are you trying to achieve?
- What is the end-goal of each digital campaign?
- What is the purpose of a ‘sexy website’ if the customers don’t even use it?
- What innovations have you done in the past 6 months?
The list of questions could go on and on but if any of those cannot be answered with a solid, valuable answer then change what you’re doing. Believe me, it’ll be for the better.
If you say that your company is all about innovation and that is what drives your marketing, you better be adding value to your customers. If not, you’ll lose them faster than it would take to get your team to respond to a meeting invite to discuss the ‘next big idea’.
What’s an example of innovation-driven marketing? Think of it this way, Amazon operates and promotes everything around the customer. Their mindset is always on the customer. Campaigns show how they are innovating to make the customer’s experience better, easier, and service even more reliable.
I honestly do not like how some companies give so much money for marketing campaigns with the goal of bagging awards or just to get millions of views. Awards are meaningless to customers. Customers do not give much attention to the awards you’ve received if your customer service sucks. Awards don’t benefit the customer in any way, at all. Gone are the days where awards mean that you’re doing great. Nowadays, you can practically ‘buy’ those awards – which is why they are never and never will be something on my radar.
Marketing can’t drive innovation.
Market-driven innovation is different, that is where you evaluate and understand what the market needs and use that to drive innovations to then give the market what they want and need.
Marketing driven innovation is where we only innovate based on what could potentially support marketing campaigns. You could also say that it’s when marketing tends to focus on promoting something only based on the idea that it could generate revenue. Yes, it’s a real thing.
Going back to the definition and goal of innovation, it’s to add value. If a marketing campaign is not adding value how do you think innovations would turn out? I’m not trying to step on any toes, but the reality is, many do not understand how innovation works, what should drive innovation or where innovation could take you, as a company. And until everyone realizes and understands those 3 areas innovation will just remain to be a buzzword.
You may not believe me but there are companies who say they are innovating but in reality, they are only focused on marketing. Marketing has more focus than innovating. Company newsletters, if summed up, are geared towards marketing and promoting the company in this way or that.
What’s an example of marketing-driven innovation? Think of it this way, Amazon operates and promotes everything around the customer. If they were to reverse that, making it all about selling the best products at the best prices, then that would be a huge difference. Yes, they’d still be innovating but with the products and prices in mind. “Let’s build this new XYZ as it’ll reduce operational cost on our delivery.” or “Let’s optimize the sales funnel because there’s a whole bunch of abandoned carts.” These two, are okay, there’s nothing wrong with them. But when ideas like these become the attention and focus of a company, internal innovation will eventually take a dive.
So, which does your company fall under, Innovation-Driven Marketing or Marketing-Driven Innovation?
Remember, even if I’ve said so much in this article, that adding value should be the key driver of all company campaigns and efforts. If it not adding value to the (1) customer and then (2) the company, then it needs to be changed.
A lot of companies are TOO focused on generating better revenue YoY but how does that affect your customers?
In conclusion and in line with Simon Sinek’s famous ‘Start with Why’, this is what each company should be doing. Instead of just throwing thousands of dollars down the drain, start with why. This 3-letter word – why is powerful because it makes you rethink and analyze if it will be of any value or not.
About the Author:
Weslee Trout is a digital strategist and consultant for small and medium businesses. He has worked with dozens of brands across Asia, the USA, and Europe. At Denkfabrik Digital (DDX), he focuses on the digital strategy and connecting the dots between strategy and implementation. He also leads the marketing initiatives for OXYTOCIN, a product spin-off of DDX.
– “Amazon Leadership Principles”
– “How Employee Well-Being Drives Innovation At Work, And How Leadership Can Foster It”
– “What is innovation? 15 experts share their innovation definition”
– “The Trust Economy Book by Philipp Kristian Diekhöner”
– “What is Marketing?”