Innovation should be the key element in your business strategy.
However, innovation only has commercial value when it satisfies the
needs of your target markets. By satisfying your customer's
needs in a unique way, innovation provides not only increased
revenue but also justifies higher margins which can be the engine
for the future growth and profitability of your business.
MARKETING STRATEGY IN INNOVATION
The first step in an effective business plan lies in devising an
appropriate marketing strategy. The objective is to discover the
needs of the market and to set out to meet those needs in a unique
way. This is the essence of commercial innovation. Notice that the
process must always start with the market's needs. This is the
antithesis of the old misguided adage:
"Build a better mousetrap
and the world will beat a path to your door"
Marketers need to bring innovation to the market in terms of
unique inventions, designs and concepts but only after they have
done their homework in assessing whether these particular
innovations meet the needs of their target market.
MARKET INVESTMENT IN INNOVATIONS
Commercialising innovation involves the use of substantial
financial and human resources. If a marketer is thinking
strategically, this use of resources should be seen as an
investment rather than an expense. An invention has little
intrinsic value until a customer is convinced of the practical
benefits that invention brings to the customer's business. A
brand has no significance until a customer recognises that brand as
a badge representing an innovative and high quality service or
product. Once the customer understands and accepts the value of the
innovation, it becomes a long term source of revenue and profit for
PROTECTION OF INNOVATION
If it is the role of marketers to commercialise innovation, it
is also their role to protect that innovation. Once an innovation
is commercialised, it crystallises as intellectual property which
needs to be protected. Brands should be registered as trade marks.
Designs and inventions should be registered as designs and patents.
Creative work should be clearly defined in terms of copyright.
Trade secrets should be protected by strict security
Intellectual property rarely appears on the balance sheet, but it
can be the most valuable asset that a business possesses. In view
of the fact that marketers are entrusted with the obligation to
commercialise innovation, they also have the duty to protect the
commercial value in that innovation.
EXPLOITATION OF INNOVATION
You may recall the Bible story of the master who gave each of
his stewards a number of talents to use and exploit. One of the
stewards buried his talents and kept them safe for his master's
return. The master was displeased with the steward. The moral is
that we are all meant to make use of our talents. Within any
business there may be buried many unused innovations. These
innovations need to be identified and exploited. Here are some
simple ways to exploit the innovations within your business:
advertise the benefit of your innovations to your customers.
They may be unaware of the advantages inherent in these
if your innovations benefit your customers, charge them an
appropriate price premium for that benefit;
consider new ways to commercialise your innovations such as
licensing, assignment or entry into new markets;
identify and value your innovations as intellectual property,
thereby increasing the perceived value of your business should you
later seek equity investment or business sale.
Marketers have a clear role in initiating and commercialising
innovation. They therefore have an obligation to ensure that this
innovation is identified, valued, protected and exploited.
Innovation lies at the heart of marketing. Disregard innovation and
a marketer's creativity vanishes. The marketer then has nothing
to sell but price.
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