Doing something new vs doing something well

In the marketing world, everyone wants to be the next Apple, thus “innovation” is the sexy thing. Whilst the very best marketing strategy to implement may not revolve around doing something new, but it always revolves around doing something well.

Innovation is still an important aspect of effective marketing.


Council Post: One Of The Best Strategies That Marketers Overlook

Counter the counterproductive

Innovation for the sake of innovation is often counterproductive. An emphasis on mastering best practices is where you get the highest ROI.

Many marketers are so focused on coming up with newer, splashier methods of delivery that they forget to analyze what established leaders in their field are already doing. But doesn't it make sense to take some cues from those best-in-class brands? After all, they're leading the field for a reason.


Noobs beat pioneer

The innovator is usually not the one to create a lot of shareholder value for a company. It's not always a matter of being first to market. The key is being the best in the market, and that usually means coming in second, analyzing the best practices and missteps of your predecessor, and then optimizing your processes accordingly. (Remember Friendster ?)

Market pioneers tend to have very limited rewards, whereas firms that enter much later than pioneers tend to dominate markets.


The latecomer dominates

Even though Facebook, Instagram's parent company, is not known for its innovative approach, it has profited from stealing ideas from other companies. That's where Instagram Stories came from — a blatant rip-off  of Snapchat. Once again, the latecomer dominates the market.


Borrow, Steal, Transform

Jobs is the classic example of a corporate leader held up as an innovator in his field. In the vast majority of cases, innovation is less about creating something out of thin air, and more about borrowing (or stealing) good ideas from the competition, and then transforming those ideas into something even better. 


"Good artists copy, great artists steal."

Jobs adopted a concept from another company and then tweaked into something amazing: the Graphical User Interface (GUI). Even though the Xerox computers with the PARC-developed GUI were way ahead of their time, Xerox couldn't see the potential from their company's new invention. 

Jobs had the ability to recognize a great idea from someone else and then adopt it (with some changes) as his own. He wasn't the first to market with the GUI, but he was the best at harnessing its potential by far.


Look both ours and outside category

On the Adweek podcast series, CMO Moves , Lowe's EVP, CBO and CMO Marisa Thalberg put it this way: "We need to look to our own category for information, but we need to look outside of our category for inspiration."


The sweet spot

Between marketing innovation and optimization, this is the sweet spot highlight:

On one hand, you need to know the score in terms of what your competitors are doing — what's working for them and what challenges they're facing. On the other hand, you can combine that marketing intelligence with inspiration from other brands or industries. What are the commonalities between industries, and how can they be leveraged to inform a killer marketing strategy? 


Mix and match

Instacart is a great example of what can happen when marketing intelligence and creativity (read: innovation) are aligned.

The company combined two great ideas: food delivery and a user-friendly mobile app.

Its core marketing message was "Grocery shopping simplified." Instacart borrowed and combined several ideas from industry-adjacent companies like Uber into a unified marketing strategy and was handsomely rewarded for its efforts.


Second mouse gets the cheese too

The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

Innovation is important, but only when you combine it with marketing intelligence you lock the creative magic.

Keep your eyes open. Look at your competition. Acknowledge their strengths and analyze their weaknesses. See which best practices you can make your own and which ones you can make better.


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