A lot of businesses get by on iteration alone. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. When you find a unique niche, playing second fiddle isn’t always the worst thing that can happen, especially if it’s enough to sustain a healthily growing business. However, if you want to truly be a leader in the industry and make your own path with your business, innovation is key. Here, we’re going to look at some tips on how you can innovate the products you’re selling so that you can boldly step out ahead of the competitors.
Consider the barrier to your product
Innovation doesn’t have to always spring directly up from inspiration. There are also a few ways that you’re able to reverse engineer it into your product designs. One of the best ways is to look at why your existing customers stop using your product, or what might stop certain parts of your target market from getting on board in the first place. With thorough market research, such as surveys and exit questionnaires, learn what the current pain points of existing customers are and what you can possibly do to eliminate them. If you could get rid of those barriers, that could make a product more viable than anything in the field right now.
Look to the scientific cutting edge
Just as technology is always progressing and always opening new opportunities for software and hardware product creators, the same can be said of medical, food science, and other chemistry-driven industries. If you’re in any business that relies on the research and development of products in those industries, then looking to some of the latest components to work with and their suppliers could help you find the keys to innovation. Naturally, the bulk of the innovation here is to be discovered with your own research based on new findings but finding suppliers that are keen on developing custom compounds at a reasonable price can help make it a lot easier, too. Stay on top of the latest advancements from scientific fields could hold the answer you have been looking for.
Look to the shifting values of your market
Customers don’t always buy what’s new because it’s better. More and more, they’re beginning to buy because the products and those who produce them align with their values. Making your business an ethical match with your customers could be an innovation in and of itself. The clearest example of this is the rise of green products, products that are made as efficiently as possible, are renewable as possible, and use packaging that is as sustainable as possible. This isn’t the only example of an ethical shift, with other factors like natural foods, cruelty-free, and products that support those who farm, make, or extract the natural resources made to use them also growing in popularity.
Create a landscape that energizes innovation
The most important point, to start off with, is the fact that innovation rarely comes from a single source. Rather, it comes from a culture of innovation, of fact-sharing, engagement, and communication that you need to cultivate within the team itself. For that reason, never forget that your team is the most valuable asset at your disposal. You could already have a collection of innovators ready and willing to share their ideas, but without the encouragement that they are being listened to. Rather than keeping staff meetings to purely administrative topics, you should also try to engage your team for ideas whenever they are willing to bring them. If you don’t use the innovation that’s currently in your team, then you risk losing it to your competitors.
Don’t forget to innovate your services along with your products
Simply focusing on the products alone can result in the rest of the business becoming stale as a result. While you should always look for the next way to evolve what you offer, you should also look for ways to evolve how you offer it. Innovation can just as easily come in the way of adding better routes to support and offer help to your customers, to get more engaged with your business community, and to follow up with them to ensure customer success. As a result, even if your products are iterative, the level of service that they can’t find at others who are providing a competing product aren’t able to match.
Pay attention to the march of technology
There are several ways that startups and companies with long legacies alike are using technology to innovate their products. More and more software designers are moving to a software-as-a-service model, using the Cloud to offer their products online so they can be used securely from anywhere on any device with access to the same data. More home appliances are being built with the Internet of Things already integrated to allow for greater connectivity and smart home applications. Even if it doesn’t seem immediately relevant, keep your ear to the ground for new technological trends being developed and use the biggest tech conferences are the grounds to start brainstorming sessions with your team. Even if there isn’t an immediately useable idea, you never know when the next revolutionary technology will become viable enough to start investing in.
Innovate the experience
It’s not always the practicality of the product or its unique selling proposition that needs to be innovated. Sometimes, a brand excels by innovating the feeling, sight, bound, and branding of a product. Apple is one of the greatest success stories that has been based largely on incremental change to technologies already available on the market, but an evolution in branding and product experience of comfort, prestige, and on-trend design has made them household names while many of their competitors never enjoyed the same kind of success. A brand innovation can sometimes be just as successful in selling the latest iteration of your products just as much as an evolution in design.
Innovation certainly isn’t easy, nor is it often cheap. It can be risky to break into a new direction, but it may be the only way that you can truly excel in the business world. Hopefully, the tips above give you a few ideas on how to do it.