Innovation Leadership: The marketer’s role in driving innovation

When it comes to innovation, you will likely work with a product innovation team, who are peers that could be filled with other marketers, scientists, designers, or technology experts. Brand leaders should exhibit influence, especially as many in product development believe they design things that you will market. I believe innovation should be guided by the brand. Not randomly created and forced onto the brand.

To illustrate, click on the diagram to zoom in. 


It is better to make products that consumers want rather than make consumers want what you make

As part of your consumer knowledge-gathering, identify consumer need states that are not currently being addressed by competitors. Use these need states to kickstart the innovation process, using brainstorming to build a robust pipeline of ideas. 

From the best innovation ideas, develop concepts to test with consumers, measuring new ideas on uniqueness, motivation to purchase, ownability, potential size, and strategic fit with the brand. Listen to consumer feedback to optimize, adjust, or pivot the learning into new ideas. 

To illustrate, click on the diagram to zoom in. 

Innovation process

Product extensions

Identify new consumer need states that your brand can easily handle. Essentially, use the product extension to broaden your portfolio to help neutralize competitive advantages or use to gain share of shelf. Moreover, these help to build continuous news that keeps brand momentum going with new benefits, flavors, and sizes.

Product improvements

Identify where you are losing consumers. Help isolate flaws and gaps in your brand that need fixing. Find ways to move ahead or catch up to competitors.

New formats

Take the assets of the brand and move into new business opportunities—bringing your loyal user base and brand reputation.

Game-changing technology

These are completely exploratory ideas that combine your technical capabilities. Match up to pure unexplored consumer need states. Move your brand into fully protected blue ocean–type competitive positions. 

Go to market

Innovation moves ideas to the marketplace

To build an innovation pipeline, push the best ideas through concept refinement, market testing, and a decision process with management. Approvals include execution plan and milestones from production to launch. Drive a robust pipeline, with a balance of lower risk launches and higher risk exploratory ideas. Before approving, understand the forecast, budgets, and profitability expectations.

Once you are ready to go, create a go-to-market launch plan with project management, including the brand name, logos, packaging, production, and channels. Build marketing support, which will include advertising, launch presentations, sales, and retail plans.

Product Innovation strategy for your marketing strategy

Leading innovation

The marketer's experience of leading the innovation

You will gain an amazing overall experience by launching a new brand from scratch. It requires you to engage every marketing skill and ideal leader behavior. Essentially, you will build up the brand positioning to create concepts, build the product, set up operations, come up with the name, design the logo, determine forecast, sell to retailers, ship, create advertising, displays, promotions, and analyze the performance. 

You will learn a lot by participating in the development and testing of concepts. It is a great experience to participate in the market research processes to uncover consumer need states and turning those into new concepts. Most importantly, you will learn how to listen at a concept test to see how to optimize a concept that can be moved forward into a recommendation for launch.

As you move up, your experience with innovation will gain more complexity

Early on in your career, you will replicate a lot of the skills through the rollout of new formats or line extensions, a simpler and safer form of innovation. It is a great experience to lead a launch team with the conflicting priorities of R&D, sales, agencies, and supply chain.
A new level of complexity is the launch of a new product as part of an established brand. This experience is similar to the pool-out of a new ad within an established campaign. It’s a great experience in dealing with the unknowns and uncertainty. You will require a buy-in from senior management, you will present a launch plan to your sales team, and then help sell to channel customers.

The most challenging innovation is the launch of a new brand, which has the opportunity for higher revenue but more uncertainty and risk. As a result, will feel more pressure, which you will learn to deal with. Moreover, you will experience the most senior management oversight that you will need to manage.

Take all the learning from your experience to lead the innovation process. Most importantly, use a stage-gate process that includes regular brainstorming, consistent stages of approval, and oversight on decisions.

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