The Six-Step Innovation Workshop that Delivers Results
September 24, 2018
September 24, 2018
Smart innovation can save businesses and help to re-invent industries. Just look at the music industry:
The rise of the internet sparked the demise of the CD market and this threw the music industry into chaos. This transformed the dynamics of the music industry and threatened to spell trouble for key players like Sony, EMI and Universal. Tumbling physical sales left the music industry scrambling to find new ways to provide value to music fans that would keep their industry healthy.
Industry leaders drilled down on how music fans were in touch with music and they understood that these people didn’t just listen to music but attended concerts, bought merchandise and followed the trends set by the musicians that they admired. Music labels had been thinking only about a small part of the experience. This realisation sparked the emergence of 360° music deals. These comprehensive deals took the place of traditional record deals and saw the music industry boosts its revenue but, more importantly, give a consistent consumer experience.
This innovation revitalised the music industry and shaped it into the industry we all know today. That type of innovation isn’t easy and countless workshops won’t do the trick: they have to be effective and provide results. Here’s how you can make sure your workshops achieve that:
Step 1: Identify what makes your customers tick
The workshop process needs to begin with an investigation into who your customers are and their world of experiences. There are a range of approaches and techniques that you could use here, depending on your preferences and what you’re comfortable with. Buyer personas and fictional characters are one way, for example, that people develop an understanding of the various customers that are out there.
Outcome: At the end of this step you don’t need to have a concrete understanding of exactly who your customers are. You’ll want to have a general understanding of the differences and attributes that you’ve identified among them. This will be essential as we move onto the second step.
Step 2: Chop the buying process down to big slices
The buying process looks completely different for each business according to its product or service and the industry they are operating within.
An online business offering e-learning, for example, may have a buying process where prospects find a piece of gated content and signs up in exchange for it. The prospect will then be moved down the sales pipeline using a series of emails or direct contact methods.
As you begin to explore the process you should aim to identify the key phases of the buying process. While these stages don’t have to be consecutive it is important that they are critical to your business.
Outcome: At this point you should have identified 3-6 broad phases that your customers will pass through. This will help you to better understand the journey that your customer must go through and the challenges that they face along the way.
Step 3: Explore how your customers discover you
Data has transformed the very nature of marketing and marketers now have more of it than ever before. This data should be used to get a better idea of where your customers are coming from. Information about acquisition is incredibly valuable and you should invest the necessary time into finding accurate and insightful information.
Outcome: You should have an understanding of how your business is discovered by your customers. It is important that you identify the broad categories that lead them to you, such as blog post topics or marketing channels and campaigns.
Step 4: What does your customer really do with your product?
Your customers’ experience with your brand and your product doesn’t end at the point of purchase. Having a thorough understanding of the way that your customer uses your product is important and you need to acquire this information by any means possible. You can get far by just inviting a few out on a coffee and an honest conversation or search for online reviews. Maybe even your competitors’ reviews will help you to find their challenges and your own! look for online reviews of your competitors too.
Outcome: You’ll have identified how your customer interacts with your product or service from the moment of purchase onwards. You’ll get an idea of how the product is used over time by your customer and how their relationship with it evolves.
Step 5: What triggers them to switch/stop?
Now that you have an idea of the way that your customer uses your product, you may have identified the point at which your customer will abandon your product or service. This could happen for a variety of reasons; the customer could become bored with the product or they’ll discover after a period of time that it isn’t useful for them. Even though accepting this can be a hard pill to swallow, finding out what causes your customer to stop using your product or switch to a competitor is invaluable information.
Outcome: Understanding what turns your customers away is an essential piece of information and you will find out this information by exploring reviews (both of your own company and competitors) and through direct contact with your customers.
Step 6: Start fixing things up
The previous five steps have created an honest and straight to the point review of your business. Now it’s time to develop concrete solutions to the problems that you have identified. You will have a specific list of problems to tackle and this means you’ll be hitting at their core with any solutions or innovations that you think up, rather than changing for the sake of change. You might notice, for example, that your product has a problem with longevity after a certain period of time. Now you will be able to remedy that specific issue by creating past-product life ideas.
What you should take away from this
The music industry did an excellent job of innovating in order to navigate a difficult time for its industry. This is a constant and iterative process that should be regularly performed. The music industry, for example, will find that new issues today around streaming emerge that didn’t exist at the dawn of the internet.
In a similar way, you’ll want to keep your finger on the pulse of customer opinion and sentiment to keep offering a product/service that moves with ever-changing customer needs.