Have you ever heard the expression, "Riding on the Coattails of Others?" What it means is - achieving success by associating with other people or groups. In sales and marketing, it’s another great way to create opportunities and improve your sales revenue. Let’s look at how.
Look at any industry, in any market, and you’ll find the same strategy playing out everywhere. Companies compete with one another in a mindless race to the bottom, matching products and services feature for feature, competing primarily on price. This commoditizes markets and drives down prices and margins. But ultimately, no one wins—not even the consumer--as quality, service and differentiation suffer. We call this senseless strategy “Attrition Competition”, and it is derived from prevailing military strategy, which seeks to overwhelm competitors.
How do you innovate a business model? You can create new products and services within the current business model to drive growth. Or you can create a new business model and open up a whole new world of possibilities for the firm. Either innovate within the current game, or change the game. But how?
How do you tie innovation to strategy? Professor Christie Nordhielm from the University of Michigan has developed what I consider the best single contribution to marketing thought since the 4P's. Her Big Picture framework of the marketing management process provides the context for innovating across the entire business model. Applying systematic innovation tools to each aspect of her Big Picture model can yield amazing insights at both the strategic and tactical levels of the business. It is the intersection of these two ideas...Big Picture Strategy and Systematic Inventive Thinking...that will yield consistent, profitable results. Innovation follows strategy...not the other way around.
My advice: stop evangelizing and start doing. Use a proven innovation method on a mainstream issue or product and let the results speak for themselves. Don't ask permission. Don't call it innovation. Don't preach the "..see, I told you!" message. And then...do it again. I take advice from Thomas Bonoma's classic HBR article from 1986, "Marketing Subversives."
People often ask when is the best time to innovate: early in the pipeline process, middle, or late. Teams tend to resist innovation late in the process when they are busy launching a new product. Teams tend to resist innovating in the middle of the NPD process because they are too busy developing the next generation product. Teams tend to resist innovating early in the process because they are too busy developing franchise strategy. So when is the best time to innovate? Anytime.