Innovation – some things we all need to consider
I attended a function last week where the guest speaker spoke about the subject of Innovation. When he first took the stage and mentioned what his Key Note Speaking spot was going to be covering, I shivered with dread thinking it would be the most boring 30 minutes of my life, and I was probably going to sleep through seeing it was the crack of dawn. Not so…..
The guest speaker was engaging and funny and his topic of choice was so much more interesting than I imagined it would be. Let me share some of his insights with you and see if you start thinking about innovation the way that I have been since I listened to him. His name was James O’Loghlin and he has been involved with some of Australia’s best innovators and inventors on television and privately.
His main message at the start to the eager crowd was for all of us to ” Question Everything” !
Many of us go throughout our days on auto pilot doing the same things we have done the same way every day without even questioning its method, or thinking about how things could be done a different way. He mentioned that Inventors and Innovators have no special qualities and are not gifted with exceptionally high IQ’s as many of us would believe. They are simply normal people leading normal lives that decide to question something they may do every day in order to find a better way to do it, a more efficient way or even an easier way to do things. This thought’ or ‘breaking of the status quo’, gives way to some real creative ideas and sometimes to a great idea which can come to fruition with some drive and enthusiasm. In terms of business, James suggested that we take just 10 minutes a day to be quiet and think about things, get a blank sheet of paper and just draw, write and jot down ideas. Find small ways in which you can make your customer’s journey easy, or your daily processes easier. One example he gave was a Pool Company that noticed by looking at their data, that after 3 consecutive hotter than average days, there was a spike in phone inquiries about new pools. They noticed that the first day people found themselves hot and bothered but ok, the second day that were wondering why the heat was back again to make their life hard, and by the third day, they were over it and were prompted to make that call about the new pool. Consequently, the Pool Company decided to hit their advertising budget harder on the 3rd consecutive heat wave day when the customers emotions at were at that level where they would be open to thinking about putting in a new pool. Makes sense right?……
This is innovation in business. Thinking outside the square can reap massive rewards. Another form of Innovation was to really sit down and think LIKE your customers. Be your customers. Better still, ask your customers what they think of your services, and ask them for ideas about how they would possibly improve your services. The more open we are to new information and the less paranoid we are about being wrong, the more we will learn and the more opportunity we have to make money. Who is upstream from you in terms of service offerings, who is downstream from you? What services can you cross refer? These are all questions you can consider.
Something pretty amazing happened to me shortly after the end of the function.
I, in-fact, came out of the function and had a meeting not 30 minutes later, where I decided to take a leap of faith and change my business in so many ways. I decided right then and there in that meeting that Sombrilla Digital would team up with a Melbourne SEO company to expand our service offering to clients. The SEO company was upstream from us and once I opened myself up to possibilities and innovative thinking, I found a world of opportunity was right in front of my eyes but I couldn’t see it. So I am telling you this because it has helped me to grow my own services and bring power in numbers.
How do you let your customers know what you are offering? How often do you chat to them and communicate to them if your services change?
These are all great questions and you would not believe how many businesses out there miss out on sales opportunities by not letting their customers know what other services they offer other than the one service they may be delivering? An example is a lawyer is preparing a Will for a couple. They see the lawyer a few times to prepare their will, but never mention to the lawyer that one of their parents is soon to be going into a nursing home. Had the lawyer provided them with a flyer, an email or even asked them at the end of the will preparation, what other issues or family events were they experiencing at the time, he would have found out that they required a family lawyer to take care of the parent’s estate and possibly even some future legal work. Talk to your customers and ask them about their day, the more you ask the more you find out, the more you know the more you can see if there is any problems you can solve for your customer. Innovate and seek solutions to get this message across to clients. Sending out monthly accounts is a great way to provide additional services information. Adding a flyer or pamphlet into the envelope can make a lot of difference.
Change and re-evaluate your processes on a monthly basis, Have innovation meetings built into your normal monthly meetings. Listen to your younger staff, they are a huge source of innovation and maybe see things that you may not see. Dont brush them off because they are young, this is self limiting. Embrace their younger mind and tap into the younger ideas and ways of seeing things that you have forgotten because you have been too busy existing, or getting by. Getting by is no fun, and you can break out of this cycle but seeing processes outside of the box. This philosophy can also be applied to your company branding. I am amazed at the amount of clients that come to me to create a brand new look for their business image and then spend all their time micro – managing the design process so that they end up with something that they like and nobody else may like. What about their customers?? Have they asked them? I find my clients that don’t take my advice and are closed off to ideas are the ones who are the least successful in the re-branding process. I have been designing company brands and launching them for over 35 years, and yet a business owner who has never touched a computer let alone opened Photoshop or Illustrator can sit there and tell me they are much more qualified to know what they need. No they are not ! Do you go the doctor and ask him to sit there while you check yourself over and decide what is making you ill? No.
People in business out there, please please respect the experts you deal with for their skill set. Innovative thinkers can embrace other’s thoughts, wisdom and experience in their chosen profession and can trust that others may know what they need, more than they may know themselves. If we all had this type of attitude we would all be handing out more work to each other and an innovative, bountiful attitude is the freedom that most business owners truly seek, but very few are brave enough to embrace. Give it go…you will be surprised what comes back to you.
I will leave you with one last innovative thought that I have about branding. Remember that your Brand is not what you say about about your own business , it is what your brand says to your customers that matters the most. Is your brand sending the right message?
April 8, 2019
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