Innovation is not a doing word, it's a being word.

It's time to take the word innovation out of your mission statement, brand purpose and values and into a place of action.

Hand holding a lightbulb against the dawn sky
When your innovation is active it should illuminate your brand's direction

“Innovation” is a word full of promises. It conjures up excitement, rallies hope, and speaks of growth for the days ahead. In practice however, defining, communicating, activating and measuring innovation often takes a back-seat to BAU (business as usual) projects, with organisations delaying potentially game-changing, big-picture initiatives to pursue short-term wins.

Yet small tweaks or repeat campaigns year-on-year no longer cut it when trying to engage with your customers. Innovation is the heartbeat of any growing organisation - here's a few way to keep it pumping.

Adapt to Change

The digital economy and intense competition has sparked a rapid change in the way people engage with their most admired and respected brands. As a result, businesses are struggling to keep up. The most common issues I've seen within organisations are skills and resourcing shortfalls, siloed communications, and a lack of time and vision to truly move into the future.

Change is always difficult in organisations that hold onto legacy systems, procedures, teams and methodologies. This seems especially apparent in the NFP sector, where many organisations find themselves revisiting the same fundraising and community nurturing programs that have been tried and tested for years. Yet when change is on the horizon, it’s better to follow the current into new territory than to stay still. Expecting the inevitably of change is the true key to innovation.

Create Relevant Content

An engaged customer base can form the heart of your brand’s differentiation and innovation tactics and organisations should take an active interest in listening to their most ardent fans and monitoring their behaviours. Through this lens, we can see beyond the short-term financial gains to opportunities that can foster powerful organic advocacy from within these communities to advance their growth.

Understand your Customer Experiences

Blogging gives your site a voice, so let your business’ personality shine through. Are you a creative agency? Go wild with original blog posts about recent projects, cool inspirational ideas, or what your company culture is like. Add images, and videos to really spice it up, and pepper it with slang to keep readers interested. Are you a programmer? Stay on the more technical side by offering weekly tips, tricks, and hacks that show off your knowledge of the industry. No matter what type of business you have, one thing is for sure - blogging gives your business the opportunity to be heard in a way in a different and unconventional way.

Look to Others

Innovation does not happen in a bubble. Organisations can look to other sectors for examples of best practice consumer engagement techniques to help inform their own strategies. In Australia, many retailers have transformed their approach to content marketing by building relationships with their fans in social media channels and asking for the sale in channels such as email marketing. Seeing how other sectors treat customer engagement as a multi-channel experience can be quite a revelation for organisations that are used to doing things the same old way. It may also be useful for brands to collaborate and partner with other sectors to extend their reach into new territories that may otherwise be inaccessible.

Adopt a Growth Mindset

For innovation to be successful, organisations must start with a shared desire to evolve, improve and nurture their connections to continue their growth. Without this mindset and strategy in place, conventional ways of doing things remain unchallenged and innovation cannot find root.

For this to work, a strong platform for team communications is central to nurturing momentum for innovation. Siloed communications can create internal competition, disruptions and misunderstandings within teams. Sometimes, a great first step in the right direction is to simply invest in the right communication, tools and procedures.

Finally, organisations should be looking deeply into each of their customer touch points to unpack insights that can help them improve their interactions and show results to keep teams motivated and on track.

Innovation is a long game, but at the heart of it, understanding, maintaining and harnessing the ongoing active relationships can be transformative in developing innovative cultures that can set organisations up well for the future. If you're keen to move innovation beyond the mission statement and into tangible and actionable outcomes, let's chat.

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