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  • Writer's pictureMark Olivito

Understanding Innovation: Learn From What “Wows” You!

Innovation is easy to learn from real life experience. How? Find products you consume that simply “wow” you, make you talk and make you want to learn more. Experience them, research them, and reverse engineer to YOUR business model if there is something worthy of “borrowing.”

The process is simple:

  • Find a product you use that makes you talk about, brag, say “try this!”

  • Study the packaging, one of the most critical elements of branding

  • Do some basic research: Check out the social channels, website, basic Google news/buzz

  • Write down what’s working for the product, ultimately what can be “borrowed.”

Innovation does not need to be a R&D break-through to work. It also does not need to be driven by costly third party agencies that have a knack for mystifying the process.

But it does need to be special to matter. More importantly, all the elements of the marketing mix must come together to create a brand loyalist. Here’s one that nails the equation.

My wife brought the following home: Popcorn Indiana, “Black & White Kettle corn.” It was so good the devil must have made it.

We are not big popcorn eaters, but we are always hunting for the new & different. This hit the mark. The combination of chocolate and salt is out of this world. Guess what else is?

  • The packaging – There are so many health & “quality” claims I’m almost convinced I’m eating a banana.

  • The social media call-outs. Even better? Their social media engagement. They get that social without being “social” is useless. They clearly have standards in place on response time, engagement, and are clearly having fun. And why not, this is popcorn right?

  • Their website and product line-up – Flavors and unique combinations is what they do; now I want to try the others. Multimedia, clean images, they simple messaging very well.

  • The founder of the company is somewhat of a serial entrepreneur… can learn a ton by learning about a founder.

I don’t know specifics about the Popcorn category, but it’s fair to assume since it’s a salty snack that it is dominated by big players like Frito Lay. Low cost producers with massive distribution networks and marketing spending. Can’t out-spend or “out-muscle” the big boys.

Innovation should be at the top of the list for differentiating a business. Being different and unique always serves a simple purpose: It makes direct comparisons difficult.

When that happens, price is less of a factor…

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