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About this thing called Innovation April 24, 2007

Posted by David Dirks in Innovation: Not Just for the Big Dogz.
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dirksphoto.jpgThe current hot word in the world of Big Dogz is ‘innovation’. Not that innovation is new. Man has been innovating since life began. In his March 5, 2007 column, BusinessWeek columnist Dan Saffer (www.businessweek.com) noted that the Big Dogz are suffering from a “cult of innovation”. Innovation is now done for the sake of…innovation.

His point is well taken. Saffer took the word ‘innovation’ to task. He points out that creating purple ketchup is not innovation. Nor is Crystal Pepsi. Nor is ‘new and improved Tide’. What, the Tide you told me was great now sucks? Never cleaned very well? Oh, but this is supposed to be better? Didn’t they tell me that in the last ad?

Webster’s defines innovation as ‘something new or different introduced’. Well, that’s not too helpful. Does that mean that purple ketchup is innovative? I can’t get myself to think so. It tastes the same as RED ketchup.

Saffer’s point is well taken: today, many companies innovate for the sake of innovation. They sometimes take a perfectly good product or service and add some ingredient or other items and then call it “new”.

Innovation is not creating “products no one needs and few actually desire”, says Saffer. It’s just the opposite.

What is innovation to small business? It can be the difference that makes your ‘word of mouth’ marketing campaign easier to execute on. Creating the next purple ketchup isn’t going to do it for you.

Ask your self these questions:

1. What can I do to enhance my products or services (including things like pricing, ordering, customization, personalization, delivery, etc.) to make them more desirable to my customers?

2. What do my customers need/want/desire in my products & services that would make them continue to buy from me and spread the good word? Have I ever seriously asked them?

3. When was the last time I provided real innovation for my customers? What was it?

I like the idea of creating a small business that provides a level of real innovation that customers really value and want.

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