Recently, a study by McKinsey showed that 80% of CEOs think their current business model is at risk. On top of that, only 6% of executives are happy with the innovation process in their organizations.
Today, when there is more competition than ever in the B2B world, it’s important for companies to think innovatively rather than traditionally in order to get ahead. It’s no longer enough to follow the crowd and hope for the best. Instead, it’s absolutely critical to start thinking creatively, put customers first, and get experimental with all parts of your business.
Consumers are no longer passive receptacles in the buying process, they are the masters of their own fate and are demanding more emphasis to be placed on customer experiences.
This is forcing B2B marketers to successfully innovate – or, more specifically, to go beyond just throwing around ideas and actually implement positive change.
What Does Innovation Mean in the B2B Landscape?
If you automatically think of crazy experiments, lab coats, and steaming test tubes of potions when you hear the word innovation, you’re not alone. But, in the business world, it relates to the art of being one step ahead of competitors and putting the customer at the centerpoint of business.
In the B2B world, it’s easy to think this means drastic changes to the selling process and creating more weird and wonderful products than before, but innovation can mean even the slightest tweak to a process or system that reaps huge benefits.
It can be something as simple as offering a simpler payment option, changing packaging, or doing something different with delivery.
Take the SaaS industry as an example.
Despite offer far fewer product features than software vendors of the past, the delivery and pricing models were revolutionary at the time making the industry incredibly innovative.
B2B Innovation and Growth
Think about it:
The B2B world is in a constant state of flux like most industries.
What’s popular today might be a low-priority tomorrow, and things change at the drop of a hat.
Like with anything, market changes inevitably crop up and can take the charm of your business with them. Your products and services may no longer be relevant, and you’ll find customers dropping off one by one.
In order to continue growing as a business, you have to give yourself a competitive edge. Sit back and relax for too long, and you’ll find your positioning in the industry could dramatically plummet.
It’s vital that you know what motivates your customers and what their needs are in the current market landscape and to keep on top of this every single day.
Because, remember: customer loyalty is one of the main drivers of future growth, and opening yourself up to innovation is one way you can make sure your customers’ needs are constantly being met.
Innovation and Profitability
The number one goal of most businesses is to increase revenue, but far too many B2B companies focus on the wrong thing to get them there.
Instead of having a one-track mind about numbers, getting innovative with how you target customer goals can be a far more effective way to generate more revenue.
You can do this by structuring your innovation approach to understand the common goals and objectives of your customers at multiple different levels.
Take O2’s B2B vertical that switched things up to attract more c-suite customers. They began to focus more on strategic business priorities and commercial benefits that automatically prompted prospects to question their own strategies.
Using data from the switch up, O2 could build specific profiles for each c-suite account and highlight each individual’s distinct needs.
How’s that for an innovative marketing approach?
Innovation and Differentiation
Standing out has never been more important in an increasingly saturated B2B industry, and the best way to outperform others is to know the market better and to respond to trends quicker.
If you follow the crowds and do everything your competitors are doing, you’re going to blend in with all the others and sell solutions that have already been done to death.
Our Easy Innovation Process
That’s all well and good, but how do you actually “be” innovative? Our easy innovation process helps you reveal areas you can glean insights from and helps you implement changes that make your business better.
Step 1: Look, Listen, and Learn
Innovation should be driven by data and insights into your target markets, your users, and current trends and competitors. It’s important to gather these together to build a bigger picture of your business and the needs of your prospects.
Step 2: Envision
It’s time to think big.
This is like one big brainstorming session where you jot down all your ideas – however big or small. Get together with your clients, industry experts, customers, and other relevant stakeholders to get multiple different perspectives. This is idea generation at its finest!
Step 3: Activate
We also call this stage “prototyping” because it essentially involves taking the most promising concepts you came up with in the brainstorming stage and beefing them out into do-able campaigns and strategies. At this stage, your ideas will be tested, validated, and revised if necessary.
Step 4: Forward
By now you have a set of validated innovation solutions and you know what you need to do to bring them to fruition – and that’s exactly what this step in the process involves.
You’ll simply be implementing your chosen strategies into the relevant parts of your business, measuring their success, and tweaking them as and when they need to be.
In addition, it’s crucial to effectively communicate your product changes to your customers. In digital products, you can implement a changelog to share the latest releases and product updates.
Innovate or… Die?
Choosing to ignore innovation can have such a detrimental impact on your business that it’s simply not even an option if you want to succeed.
The best way to begin is to look at the ways you can innovate your business from every angle and don’t hold back – it can involve strategy, customer focus, and technology, or even all three in one go.
Because, at this point, it’s really not enough to sit back and wait for change to happen. To stay relevant in a seriously fluid industry, you need to have a well-rounded approach, be open minded, and actually implement the ideas you come up with.