Innovating Marketing

Guest blog post by one of my former students – Bruce Harper – posted with permission


Marketing is an ever-changing and volatile arena. An amazing product or service can go down in flames without the right marketing team behind it. In decades past, a good label, the right name, a product that is needed, or maybe an actor attached to your brand might have been enough to meet sales goals. Innovation that takes place in the research and development lab can really give your company and product the edge in competition. Having an amazing team that can develop something that has a demand, a need, in the consumer eye is crucial for making a mark in your industry. That being said, it is also imperative that your marketing and innovation teams work together so closely that they form an innovation and marketing culture together that is mutually beneficial. Charles Gaudet, “The Entrepreneur’s Marketing Champion”, addressed this in Forbes:

“Every business needs innovation, just as much as it requires marketing. The goal of innovation in business is to give customers the best possible products, services and experiences – which makes marketing a much simpler task.”1

Your marketing team gathers and distributes information to your consumer. Your consumers’ responses  are relayed to the innovation team to assist them in the discovery of new evolutions that solve new problems. These elements need to work together seamlessly in order to progress and profit.

A commercial that grips you, holds your attention because it is funny, provocative, or exhilarating: What does it tell you? This generation of consumer has the most information at its fingertips than any before, and they won’t buy your product without it first undergoing meticulous scrutiny.

In a marketing oriented Harvard Business Review, Beth Comstock, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at General Electric said:

“The really good innovations – the ones that change the world – need to be explained before they’re accepted.”2

Marketing has had to undergo extreme transformations recently to adapt to the demands of technology and consumers. At General Electric, they understand that most of the battle takes place when you explain your product or service to the consumer. Flashy marketing doesn’t cut it anymore. Products that are lined up by the hierarchy of brand names, prices that must imply quality (yet because of the information readily available via the Internet, are often ignored in favor of purchasing the lower tier product, not only to save money, but because the differences in the products are negligible if not identical), all of these things require substantive marketing, not glitz and glam.

At other times, younger generations are more focused on nutrition and tend to avoid more processed foods. Example: macaroni and cheese, offered by Kraft at one dollar per box, or organic macaroni and cheese, offered by the same price. When the ingredient list is short and can all be pronounced, it’s a good sign.

Marketing and innovation are constantly changing by nature. Keeping a clear eye, while managing a successful product line, is all about blending these elements together in respect to the consumer. Knowing your consumer’s needs and adapting to them with your marketing campaign, as well as your product itself is the key to success.

Keywords: #innovativemarketing #marketing #innovation


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Inspiration Everywhere

I love this article by Fast Company – 4 Ways to Find Inspiration Everywhere.  I think I

By TZA on Flickr - Creative Commons Lic.

enjoyed it because I have lived much of their “4 ways” and I wanted to write my notes about the topic.

1. Challenge Your Preconceived Notions

This maybe the hardest habit to break. It is easy to fall back on “what we are doing is working, so why change.” Change is good for you and your organization. Companies that embrace change move forward faster. I can think of a couple of companies in the Metro Detroit area that embrace change daily. It is part of their company DNA – Valassis Communications & Menlo Innovations. Both companies live-eat-breathe concepts that kick preconceived notions in the butt. Valassis has a mantra of “what you did yesterday was great – what are you going to do today to improve upon it.” They celebrate even when there is a failure in a project – because they learn and improve from failure. Menlo has a huge sign on their wall – “Make Mistakes Faster.” Probably my favorite sign in the whole world. Menlo also embraces change from the daily rat race of other industry businesses. You have to visit them to see it in action.

I liked one of the comments on the article from  Fast Company – If you’re always afraid to try new things because they might not work, you’re going to have a tough time cultivating your more creative side!  I could not have said it better myself!

 2. Plan Creative Stoking Sessions

I have a lot of creative friends. If I were to poll most of them I think I would find that their responses agree with the article. They don’t make enough creative time. Being creative is not a button you can push on the back of your head to turn it on. It doesn’t always blurt out of your brain. I really think that non-creatives believe we just turn on the creative side and “blop” something wonderful out. I guess I always think of it like a cat – the cat is usually not spontaneously purring, although some cats do that sometimes, for the sake of argument here…let’s say they don’t. Then a human strokes (stokes a response) the cat, and the next thing you know the cat is purring.

Creative sessions do not need to be rigid – the less rigid the better. I like to doodle zentangles – they are not rigid and they make my brain think a little differently.

3. Change up Routine Regularly

This is critical – if you don’t change your routine you are destined to get stuck! A routine is a routine. Start looking at ways you can flip your day

4. Find What Creates Mind Space for You

When I worked at Ford, most of my job was very analytical. Often though, they (bosses, coworkers) would come to me and ask me to do something creative – make a logo, create a website, etc. I had ways I could turn my brain into something more creative, but it took some stoking. I would watch Cirque du Soleil videos on YouTube or go to sites with lots of bright colors – anything to change the brain from analytical to creative.

I have one more to add to the list that was not on the original article.

5. Move Around

There is a reason why so many creatives use desks at which they can sit or stand. Some have even added a treadmill to their standing desks. Movement isn’t just for your overall body, but it is also very good at getting your brain in action. So get up and move, take a walk around your building, go outside and walk a block – anything to get those brain synapses working!

Keywords: #creativity, #inspiration, #creative session, #inspiration

9 P’s of Marketing

The internet was the first giant, dynamic shift in Marketing in decades. Social Media was marketing-meter-with-product-and-promotion_G1G0efvOthe next frontier that marketers embraced and both have changed the way we market everything!

Marketing classes have promoted the 4 “P’s” of marketing since they were developed in the 1960’s by E. Jerome McCarthy. They are classics, still taught today in educational institutions. However many in the industry say there are more than 4 if you want to truly understand current marketing methods.

The classic 4 are:

  1. Product -a physical product or a service is your “product”. The product and it’s benefits are in a constant rotation of the product life-cycle and need help from the other “P’s” to compete in this hyper-competitive environment.
  2. Price – in most industries this is a rotating target based upon competition, industry as a whole, current trends and predictions of sales.
  3. Place – is where you sell your product, distribution channels, and now the internet (not part of the thought process in the original 1960’s model).
  4. Promotion – includes public relations, advertising, sales, events, white papers, websites, ad words, press releases, sponsoring events, training events and many more, but I think you get the idea. I also lump process into the promotion category predominately because process is a lot about promotion.
  • Additional “P’s” that belong under promotion, Permission based marketing, Partnerships, and Personalization.

Contemporary approach with new “P’s”:

5.  Purpose – This is my favorite “P” – if you do not know the “why and what” you want from any piece of marketing material before you distribute or create it – you might be wasting a whole lot of money. With all that is available today for tracking from landing pages to unique URLS and PURLS (personalized URLS) specific to a marketing piece – why aren’t you tracking as much as possible. Know in advance – is it brand awareness or a call-to-action. What numbers are you aiming for (Predictions) – an increase in website visitors, conversion from visitor to customer, or new customer leads – I think you get the idea – know the “why and what.”

6.  People – I used to think that people belonged in the promotion category – but there has been a swing in a new direction as people “evangelize” your product. They may be employees, internet bloggers, or just people that love your product talking about it. People are also key to innovation when they actually take the time to talk to a company about a like or dislike of a product. Remember what happened when Coke changed their Classic Coke – that was a people rebellion on a grand scale. Engaging with customers and their engagement with you is priceless. You can learn so much

7.  Processes – you can have a great product or service but if you don’t have the processes in place, you are likely to fail. Processes include a strategic marketing plan which feeds into the business plan for the company, and a marketing budget – all should have short and long term predictions. Process also includes A/B testing of ads, copy, who will be your social voice, and what will be your social voice. Mistakes can end up costing jobs or reputation.

8.  Philosophy – it is no longer sufficient to be a company with a product or service. You also often share your philosophies with the world. Menlo Innovations– often invites groups of people, even their competition, in for up to week-long sessions – to show off their philosophy for developing software via extreme agile project management and paired programming. Green energy firms – Accio Energy, eco-friendly cars – Smart Cars, and electric bikes – Current Motor Company – all have a philosophy behind them. It is part of their company DNA, it is what they live and breathe at work.

9.  Packaging – from traditional packaging to non-tactile packaging on the web for services or downloads, packaging your product or service becomes more and more important as the global market place is now your competition.

There are other “P’s” that could be added to the list, but I think this covers the main old and the new “P’s” of the marketing world.

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