Finding Success: 6 Reasons Why Innovation Needs Marketing
Innovation, in and of itself, will rarely lead to success. Innovation needs marketing to create disruption and purpose in real life.
Innovations only fail for a handful of reasons;
- Lack of development
- Lack of support
- Lack of finding an audience
The 6 Reasons
Reason 1: Innovation Needs Marketing to Create a Clear … Er … Market
Today’s marketing teams must go back to looking at the bigger picture.
- Who needs this product?
- Who can’t live without it?
- And just as importantly, how do we reach those people?
Remember: the right market for an innovation may not lie within it’s current pocket of customers. Innovation requires thinking outside the data—both in terms of product development and marketing.
Marketing interacts with the customers. Marketing knows the customer base. Marketing can see pain points and report back to other departments.
Reason 2: Innovation Needs Marketing to Identify Opportunities
Before an innovation is even created, marketing teams need to be working to identify what needs are going unmet in the consumer population—what consumers don’t even realize they can’t live without. Marketing needs to be thinking beyond what’s already here and imagine what’s missing. These are the places where innovation can make an impact. The currently saturated market? That’s where innovation goes to die.
Reason 3: Innovation Needs Marketing to Identify Proper Channels
For the innovation to “set,” you have to hit the right customers where they are. Data can help you define these channels! But you still need to market to them to be successful.
Reason 4: Innovation Needs Marketing to Create Ecosystems of Opportunity
Customers want to be able to go full-steam right out of the user gate. If your innovation is going to be useful, it needs to bind itself to what they’re already using. That’s why your marketing team needs to work with you in tandem to build out an entire ecosystem of opportunity where your innovation can thrive.
Reason 5: Innovation Needs Marketing to Understand Their Audience
Your marketing team needs to understand the limits—perceptions—issues that lead your customers to make the decisions they do. These are the questions that make the difference between disruption and innovations that go nowhere.
Reason 6: Innovation Needs Marketing to Find Use Cases That are … Useful
For your innovation to work, marketing needs to be working to make a clear use case (preferably many) for the product. They need to be showing the parts of their lives it will improve and make easier. Innovation 101: You will not make money on cool alone. Developing use cases is an essential part of the development process.
Why Great Innovation Needs Great Marketing
Marketing is and should not be executed merely through tactical functions of acquiring and retaining customers, as many companies practice it today. The search, content, and loyalty campaigns that most managers call marketing these days are common downstream tactics for generating or maintaining awareness or repeat purchase; the full, business-growing power of the marketing function comes way upstream — from creating markets. Understanding people’s fundamental needs and drivers, identifying customers, and developing the entire go-to-market and usage ecosystem are the essential aspects of marketing — and the ones that the success of innovations, especially breakthrough ones, hinge upon. Marketers need to be included in development discussions earlier in the innovation process.
Strategic, upstream marketing that is incorporated into the innovation development process can clearly define who to sell the new offering to and how to sell it in ways like this:
Identify unmet and even unknown customer needs.
Instead of making assumptions about potential customers and their needs, marketing might help identify entirely new or different customers for innovation teams to consider.
Understand the deep-seated drivers of perceptions and behavior that are relevant to a product’s appeal.
A robust marketing trend analysis reveals the cultural, social, and psychological dynamics that should be addressed in the development of and communication about an innovative product.
Engage with customers through use cases and benefits instead of functionalities and features.
If an innovation is truly breakthrough, people need to be educated on how to use it and why. Marketing helps companies address this through 1) customer research, which tests the appeal of various use cases and often uncovers new ones; 2) insight development, which explores beyond the functional benefits of use to identify the higher-order, more valuable ones; and 3) positioning work and communications framing, which determines how best to convey those uses and benefits to customers compellingly.
Develop the entire customer experience ecosystem.
Innovators usually become so wrapped up in what they’re developing that they overlook all the other elements necessary to make delivery and experience of the offering successful.
Use a go-to-market strategy appropriate for the innovation and its customer.
Marketers know the importance of attending to all “4 Ps”: price, place, and promotion, in addition to product.
Innovation alone may be enough to initiate the adoption life cycle, but marketing remains the bridge necessary to cross the chasm between early adopters to the wider group of people who will form a viable, valuable customer base.
The bigger the innovation, the bigger the risk of failure. Because marketing can reduce those risks, it matters as much as innovation — perhaps even more.