“Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.”- Peter Drucker
During the lockdown, with a significant amount of free time, you and your company decided to look at future trends of what the world needs. The business was slowing down, and the need to overhaul and innovate arose. In an attempt to study and prototype some new inventions, you created an app that connects home business to people so that they can make more sales. The app was a complete success theoretically, and beta users loved it during testing! With this revolutionary invention, you are now being deemed as an innovator of the future. Now with this innovation in hand, you need to figure out your next strategy- marketing. All innovations require good marketing to be counted as successful “innovations”.
So what do you do?
Every new company must put in as much effort and ideas into their marketing as they did into coming up with the new innovative product. When innovating, it’s a given strategy to make sure that your company is not only focusing on retaining customers but also on creating a new market altogether to which you will sell your innovation. There are five main reasons for you need to integrate your marketing process into your innovation process:
- It helps define your market and brand- Understanding loyalty, market and content is only one part of marketing and is extremely limited. It only tells you about the trends of today. However, when you are selling a product of tomorrow, why stick to the trends of today? It would help if you were looking at markets that move upstream- against current trends. That will come from strategies that are qualitative and are based on creativity and work towards overall branding.
- It sets you apart from other companies– As mentioned before, marketing can go beyond the limited data you collect quantitatively. When you finish your research, you will have an analysis of the future as well and will be able to determine the trends of tomorrow while being relevant today. But be warned, there are dangers of overshooting while selling the future. A good example is Google Glass, a product that beckoned towards the future with its marketing and therefore set itself apart from other products. But in the process, it sold itself as something so futuristic and complex that it fizzled out within two years. Your marketing has the potential to set you apart while also indicating your limitations to create a niche market. The bigger the innovation, the higher the risks are, so your marketing is critical to your success.
- You create a story– Marketing can inspire and connect to people at a fundamental level. When selling your product, you want to be able to tell a story and take people on the journey you went through while creating the product. A brilliant example of this is Microsoft. Microsoft was a new player on the market when it came out-, it trumped IBM and other companies because it was not only innovative and different but because it sold a story. It told the story of a smart college dropout who worked from his garage to create something revolutionary and sleek.
Everyone loves a great success story, and therefore the product hinged on that story. To create a product is the first step, but to relate to people is the essential step in the set of processes. Your product may or not be relevant, but when you connect to people at a human level, they feel like they will either become like you because they will feel inspired or they will feel like the product gives them a certain status. This brings us to our next point.
- You create a status- Before the iPod stepped into the picture, you had enough mp3 players and walkmans. So why did the iPod become so popular then? My favourite scene from the 2015 film, Steve Jobs, is when the film closes with something extremely memorable and touching. Jobs had just fought with his daughter, and she’s plugging her earphones into a bulky walkman. He looks at her and says he’s going to put a thousand songs in her pocket so that she doesn’t need that chunky looking thing anymore.
Identifying that need sparked innovation with Jobs, and he came up with something so tiny to something with a screen- the shuffle and then the iPod. The two products were extremely successful The simplicity of iTunes, the contours of simplicity, appealing to emotion and colour all pulled us towards it, as the iPod was at the cusp of the generation where the internet was growing at a rapid rate. I wanted to be able to hold the internet with me, and Apple helped me do just that. The tagline “buy the emotion” with the silhouette style encouraged users to feel connected to the innovation, and therefore they bought it as a status symbol.
Apple has continued to do that with all their products. Their advertising appeals to primal emotions of care, love and networks, and this has made sure that people connect to the product even before they buy it. Their marketing strategies are so popular that people wait for their launches eagerly and pre-register even before the product has emerged in the market.
- It feeds into your product- It’s as essential to make sure your marketing feeds into your product as your product needs the marketing. You can innovate a beautiful product that you think is needed, but it doesn’t mean that the rest of the world thinks the same. During the product development process, innovation marketing draws in the users and customers to make sure you get the required feedback before the product is rolled out.
The feedback helps in incorporating experiences and ideas that will further feed into the development process and has the potential to create story worlds for the marketing itself. Therefore your innovation is now about the product as well as about selling a story and experience to connect to people at an interactive and human level to convince and involve them.
Therefore, whether you are an entrepreneur with a fascinating idea that you want to execute or an old company that is looking at redoing their brand with innovative new ideas and products, marketing should be as important as the invention. Innovative marketing ensures that your product is not a flop and that you get your required revenue without wasting resources. It not only will make you and your team happy but will allow you to open a whole new world of exploration and expertise and therefore, success.