Over the month I’ve highlighted myths, facts, and the need to stop simply “inventing” by really getting inside your customers’ heads to understand value gaps in ways that conventional market research and focus groups will never identify. Let’s bring the Innovation theme from this month to conclusion with some simple takeaways from my proven innovation model.
Key Points of the Innovation Model
Inventions often sit on the shelf, unsold. Innovation that hits the sweet spot on a want or need sells like hotcakes. Here’s a recap of 5 factors of the innovation model that significantly increase the innovation factor and hence the success potential:
1 – Save someone time.
Time is our scarcest commodity. Where are the greatest time-wasters when someone sources, uses, or disposes of your product or service? Is it trying to find information in your brochures or website? Place an order? Wait for the shipment to arrive (the entire Amazon drone concept is designed around this!)? Learn how to use the product to do what they’re trying to do? Get rid of the product in an eco-friendly way when they’re done with it? A little process I call “Staple Yourself to the Entire Experience” will typically find numerous ways to innovate to save customers time.
2 – Save – or make – someone money.
No, not by cutting your prices! Saving money can mean finding ways to make the total cost of ownership less expensive, increase the mean time to failure, or upend the business model so that ownership is not even required, as ZipCar did. Making money is equally important. If your product or service can help attract, convert, or retain customers (as much of the work I do with clients does), then you’ll always be in demand. To innovate, learn where there are still points of friction that can be eliminated or learn where there are still opportunities to do more.
3 – Solve a real problem.
Consumers and business people alike deal with problems, issues, and frustrations all day long, and they’re hungry for solutions. If you can, watch what they do and how they do it to find out where they struggle the most – that’s exactly what Quicken did to come up with its easy tax preparation and accounting software, and by making the tasks easier, became a force in the marketplace.
4 – Create a feel good.
Think about stiletto heels for just a moment. They’ve come and gone from the days of courtiers wearing them in the 19th century to Manolo Blahnik’s popular re-introduction in the 1960s. Any woman who has ever worn stilettos will likely admit that they’re uncomfortable. Any man who’s ever had to assist a lady in ridiculous heels to walk on grass or rough pavement will be the first to say they’re a dumb idea. But ladies won’t give up their stilettos because they simply make them look and feel great. Not every innovation has to make sense. It just has to hit a feel good sweet spot in the market.
5 – Provide peace of mind.
If you’ve ever bought insurance or a membership in an auto club such as AAA or CAA, you understand the importance of peace of mind. But do you find a way to create peace of mind for your customers? I do, with my “whatever-it-takes guarantee.” Not only do I NOT charge by the hour as most consultants do, but once the fee and scope are agreed upon, I stick with the client until we’ve achieved our goals – whatever it takes. When you own this space in your customers’ minds, it’s almost impossible for your competitors to gain any share of wallet. So perhaps your application of the innovation model has nothing to do with adding more bells and whistles to your product, and everything with making your customer sleep well at night.
Your next step is to download the complimentary training videos on innovation and share them with your team. Because when you change the conversations, you’ll change your results.