Picture of Kimberlie Williams
Written by Kimberlie Williams

When people talk about innovation, they often think it has to be reinventing the wheel or else it’s not true innovation, but that’s not the case. Innovation is simply creating a competitive edge. It’s about balancing just enough creativity and research to figure out how you can help your business stand out from the competition and bring more value to you customers.

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1. Improve Business Operations

Study how your company could shift around its operations to cut costs and boost revenue. Think of making aspects of your business simpler. Streamlining an app to just the key features used most by your customers may be something of interest to many of them. Think of ways to refurbish old materials and even content like blogs and videos. Re-using them or combining them could be a great way to free up more time for your marketing team for other endeavors.

Work to cut out the middleman as much as possible and deal straight with your customers. It may take a lot of time and self-education, but that will be more money in your pocket. Self-service is becoming increasingly popular, so equipping your customers to become more self-sufficient would also be a good move. Content marketing is a great, low-cost way to do this.


2. Expansion

Your business is only limited by your imagination. If you have the resources to take your business into another industry or another region, it can be a great way to make your business stand out from the competition. Introducing your industry first to an untapped market gives your company the opportunity to make a strong impression. 

Amazon’s Alexa, for example, joined forces with a prefabricated home startup specializing in smart tech. This will introduce Alexa to an audience that didn’t specifically ask for the voice assistant, but will get to know her quite well. It will also bolster the company in the prefabricated home industry with Amazon’s influence and power, pushing smart tech homes to become more standard. All with Alexa at the helm of each home’s smart appliances.

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3. Improve a Product or Service

Think about where the world is shifting technology-wise and how you can bridge your offerings into that direction. Don’t pour your resources into technology that is trendy, but technology that will have a lasting impact. This type of technology has an effect called creative destruction, meaning technology that vastly changes the landscape of an industry. Netflix, offering streaming movies and television series to the masses, is a great example of this. Less people are watching TV, which has encouraged many entertainment companies to either acquired or in the process of developing an equivalent to compete. 

Too many businesses think they have to bring something entirely new to the table to call it innovation. It’s all about examining your situation and seeing it where it could be improved. Netflix is still making their own improvements by trying to improve their recommendations, which some customers still find to not be representative of their tastes. To further expand on this, Spotify’s music recommendations are largely seen a strength by its customers and competitors. Apple Music recently acquired an analytics company to improve their own, despite already having more paid subscribers in the U.S.


4. Create A Better Experience

Truly listen to your customers and create an experience that speaks to them on a level unmet by your competitors. A better experience means different things to different people, so having a strong understanding of your customers’ personalities is key. Some customers may want things done faster, others may want to be treated with more patience and kindness, and some may just want trust and reliability that your business will be consistent and true to its word.

Amazon recently opened a brick-and-mortar store that sells items that have a four star rating on their site or higher, building trust for their customers that these items will deliver. The company also has several stores where customers do not even have to check out. Instead, items are scanned or removed as they enter and exit a shopping cart. The customer is charged as they exit, allowing for a much faster shopping experience with no lines necessary.


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