“Business Has Only Two Functions—Marketing and Innovation”

Chicken noodle soupThe words of wisdom I quote in the headline above are from Milan Kundera, Czech novelist, playwright and poet. To my mind, the man is a genius! For truly, if you cannot be innovative, you have no business being a marketer.

The most apt definition of innovation that I could find says, “Innovation is the creation of better or more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are ACCEPTED by markets, governments, and society.” The keyword here is “accepted” and acceptance comes from arousing interest and creating engagement.

As far back as the early 1900s, Gabriel Tarde explained the innovation-decision process as a series of steps that involve:

  1. First knowledge
  2. Forming an attitude
  3. A decision to adopt or reject
  4. Implementation and use
  5. Confirmation of the decision

If one were to put this in context of modern day B2B marketing, nothing has really changed. The steps are still the same:

  1. Creating awareness
  2. Gaining interest
  3. Evaluation
  4. Engagement and initial experience
  5. Conversion

Innovation—Chicken Soup for the Marketer’s Soul

I read a recent article on Forbes.com that summarized the results of a Crain’s B2B Magazine survey polling marketers. A key finding they said was that “B2B marketing is in a time of transition… a period of creative re-invention for marketers.” This is exactly what I have been saying here on my blog. The mainstream B2B community has realized (too late?) that a vanilla approach to marketing isn’t working.
So now what? As is typical of larger companies, most of these organizations are moving slowly towards innovation. Yes, you need to look at Big Data but the goal should be to discover repeatable processes…to INNOVATE, not RUMINATE.

The buyer on the other hand is impatient and wants a refreshing change from the humdrum sea of mediocrity. The buyer demands innovation—in products, services, presentation, content, communication platforms, media channels, and much more. How many of us in the B2B marketing world are equipped to deliver to this level of expectation. And if we aren’t, what’s our excuse—that we are too big, too tight on resources or just simply, too uncaring and ignorant? Unacceptable! And in the absence of “acceptance”, as I stated above, we will not reach “confirmation of the decision”, i.e. CONVERSION.

Now the smaller firms have a leg up because they can innovate and implement innovations a lot faster than larger companies that are plagued with too many moving parts and latent inflexibilities. As a B2B marketer, it is your privilege to dream but also your responsibility to innovate.

Even the smallest innovation can make a big difference. The simplest approach can deliver the most refreshing results. Like this ridiculously simple recipe by my niece, award winning Chef Stacy Lee Chan—Tofu and Chicken Soup. Enjoy!