What happens if your organization fails to innovate? As you can imagine, it’s not good. Let’s look at a few examples from just 2018.

The companies under Sears Holdings were successful for 120 years and everyone had some buying connection to them. Sears retail was originally famous for its mail order catalog, which advertised thousands of items delivered to your door. As an innovative suburban supplier, it had no stores for the first 25 years, but eventually built brick and mortar stores in thousands of locations. The company owned retail for generations, but fell away from innovation over the last 35 years, falling into bankruptcy due to strong competition from better innovators, like Amazon and Walmart. It is surprising, given Sears’ roots in mail order, that the company was beaten at the game it invented! But Amazon used great, innovative ideas and won the battle.

Before and after photos of Sears headquarters in 1925 and all that’s left today.

Another example includes JC Penny—with approximately the same business model. There’s also Kmart. I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

Educator and business philosopher Peter Drucker (1909-2005) summed up the need to constantly rethink your business model very wisely: “Marketing and innovation produce results, all the rest are costs.”

The question is: How does your organization avoid these fates?

Here are some ideas:

  • Step away from your day-to-day routine and look at your products and services. Are they the same as they have been for years?
  • Analyze your marketplace and do an in-depth analysis and comparison to your competitions’ products and services.
  • Research other industries’ market methods for delivering better customer experiences and analyze how you can use those ideas.
  • Create a preliminary plan of short- and long-term changes you need to make from your analysis.
  • Create a development team, with diverse experiences, and task them with championing your new goals and plans.
  • Use your marketing group to create an internal program for promotion of the new plan.
  • And last, but not least: Repeat often.

Remember, words and plans are just that. These ideas and steps won’t save you unless you act. Your ability to create action and change are the key management activities you must prioritize.

This example from our industry may cause you to reevaluate.

A new window company that is having success in the marketplace is using an innovative approach by advertising against salesmen! They promote the idea that the last thing you want is a window salesman taking up your time and pressuring you to buy. Instead, they use online quoting, image capture and innovative calculations to quote your window replacement project with no person involved.

In this new age of busy and smart buyers, this methodology fits perfectly. You probably have also seen the same approach in the latest car ads for online buying. The message is the same: Make it easier to buy and remove all the pain from transactions.

Whatever you do, remember that inaction is your enemy!

Keep Innovating!

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