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Paul Alder, Vistafolia’s founder and expert horticulturist and technical landscaper, details advice on how to promote innovation in a company culture and maximise growth potential. An experienced visionary, Paul is utilising sustainability to innovate a lacklustre artificial living wall market with a fresh product.
Modern industries grow, adapt and succeed in the wider corporate climate only when they embrace opportunities to change for the better. Truthfully, there are varied reasons why businesses thrive, be it brand loyalty or association with product or service quality and excellence. From a laundry list of desirable traits embodied by a company culture, a spirit of innovation is a high priority for many leaders. But it’s also elusive. So, what can you do to unlock innovation?
1. Hit the Market with Innovation
Unapologetically pursue innovation in the products or services your business is introducing into the market. Innovation should be more than an end goal, however, and it can become part of your marketing strategy and broader business makeup. This means innovation is more than an abstraction, but its acts as a catalyst onto further business growth and success now and long into the future.
For crowded or oversaturated markets, innovation is a differentiator and a competitive advantage. When it comes to how a business services a market, this means updating and reviewing products until there is nothing else like it. Vistafolia leads by example, utilising British engineering and key partnerships to deliver a more eco-conscious version of its product to a market that desires sustainability.
Another view of innovation is how it helps businesses remain fresh and relevant to their customers. This means, as trends help to force markets to evolve, businesses can construct more favourable reputations by answering market and user demands. Innovation can go a step further, anticipating how markets might change in time and positing products ahead of their time.
2. Focus on Your Customer
Innovation can be processed internally, starting with your talent and how they approach your products and services. But, if your business is looking to spark tangible growth in the near future, consider how your primary customer can help you find more meaningful value from your brand.
Innovation Improves Outcomes
Investment in customer acquisition typically outweighs interest in any potential value from retention rates. But innovation can strike a more meaningful balance in customer relationships, both inviting new users to explore your product ranges, and encouraging existing ones to remain loyal with your brand.
If you develop a product that answers to customer needs, then you can carve a piece of that market out for your brand. One study from the Harvard Business Review noticed how, despite conventional wisdom about customers resisting change, sustainable products have experienced a year-on-year growth. Sustainability-marketed products are more than fashionable and represent a lifestyle for many customers who are voting with their wallets.
3. Design a Culture of Innovation
Culture, creativity and innovation would struggle from the view of a cubicle. Instead, a workplace and the culture that surrounds it can help you encourage the spread of innovation. When Forbes held a conference on creativity, and how to capture it within a culture, they arrived to certain key resolutions:
Open your lines of communication within teams
Embrace constructive and frequent support
Use collaboration to find the opportunities for innovation
Culture can be a vehicle for meaningful change and, with the right behaviours present, your workplace can unlock creativity and innovation in new ways.
4. Challenge Comfort Zones
Pushing your business comfort zones means constant experimentation, whether that’s with the products you offer, or how you market your brand in front of customers. A “comfort zone” is a pattern of familiarity and, when your business remains unchanged over time, its growth will start to stagnate.
Challenging these kinds of barriers, businesses should use experimentation to encourage meaningful transformation. Experimentation could reflect in your products, cultural changes, or even team collaborations.
5. New Partnerships
New talent and external partnerships can reinvigorate a business and how it operates within markets. Sometimes the best change comes from new partnerships, whether that means working in collaboration with a competitor, or with another business that shares a similar goal. There are no hard or universal rules to new partnerships, which can help businesses discover a fresh direction.
Vistafolia’s KTP project with the University of Surrey, for example, sought a goal to produce a new biopolymer with ideal environmental benefits. Vistafolia already offered the market an alternative to living green walls, but this change means that the product will promote sustainable design in a way that can excite the market.
Whether you challenge your brand to push beyond its comfort zones, pursue new and meaningful partnerships, or refocus on what your market or customer desires most, then you can unlock the transformative power of innovation. When a business can innovate, it can see tangible growth, greater customer retention, improved brand reputation, and more.
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