“Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs,”
Remember when you wanted to get into marketing to create fun, compelling and innovative campaigns that made a real mark on your industry? Me too. Remember when you last had the opportunity to actually do that…Last year? Five years ago…? Did you ever even get the chance?
If you’re struggling to remember when you had the time to even contemplate being innovative and stop chasing your tail on existing campaigns, then you’re not alone. It turns out that UK marketers are the least focused on embedding innovation into our marketing practices than most other countries.
According to research by communications giant Dentsu Aegis, just 25% of UK marketers identify “leading disruptive innovation” as a core functional priority. This is far behind the international average of 35% and puts it at the bottom of the list in the survey of 1,000 senior-level marketers across 10 countries including Spain, Italy, France, Germany and Russia. It also means the UK is significantly adrift of CMOs in the US, where 46% see innovation as key to their roles.
So what can innovative marketing bring to a business?
Not only can innovative marketing enable greater job satisfaction and more vibrant campaigns and solutions that get an organisation noticed but it has the potential to redefine a business.
Amongst many marketers outside of the UK, marketing innovation begins with thinking differently but it leads to a change in having a marketing function that grows the business to one that can also change the business. Take a look at how Uber has used the marketing of taxis – a well-established existing commodity – in a completely different way to create a completely new and hugely profitable business model.
What’s more, the marketers who think and act disruptively will be critical to keeping pace with the consumers of tomorrow. And in our world, as patients become consumers this is increasingly important in the health IT industry. Companies which don’t reorient themselves will be overtaken by those which do.
But how can the UK bring itself inline with the rest of the world in embedding innovation?
In other parts of the world we are seeing many organisations bringing together their marketing and innovation functions to create a CMIO or creating a specific innovation hub to come up with creative ideas.
Not only are these hubs creating tangible initiatives, but they are enveloping individuals from across the business from different backgrounds and uniting them for a common purpose. What’s more, many of these hubs run in the same way that a start-up might and help to prevent great new ideas being blocked by the corporate gatekeepers at the top.
Top ten tips to establish innovative marketing
- Create a set of crosscutting practices and processes to structure, organise, and encourage it.
- Develop a cross-functional/divisional innovation hub or group that brings in other people from the business to contribute ideas, so that innovation is embedded throughout different parts of the organisation.
- Consider the role and title of the marketing director as chief innovation officer or chief growth officer to better reflect the nature of the role going forwards.
- Put protected and dedicated time aside each week to think completely outside the box or look at how other industries are tackling a problem. Come up with a crazy idea and see if it can be tweaked or refined to something tangible.
- Encourage colleagues or even customers to come up with ideas by running competitions or team building task.
- Indulge in risk taking – create a small budget for innovation ideas that take your organisation out of its comfort zone, road test and measure them and then create an evidence base to justify additional budget.
- Reward creativity – the first, second or third round of ideas may be completely bonkers but who’s to say the 38th idea won’t be the one that defines your company.
- Enlist outside help to give you ideas or to take on some of the more day-to-day tasks so that you can put your ideas to work.
- In healthcare it could be as simple as using different technologies, methodologies or approaches to do things differently.
- Embed innovation in everything that you do. Innovation is not just another task but a mindset that should be applied to everything that you do. Remove the ‘we always did it that way’ mentality.