What are actionable, innovative strategies to identify innovative business ideas ahead of customer expectations? That's an important and intriguing topic if you're responsible for innovation and new product development.


These 6 strategies all contribute to achieving a compelling, innovative marketplace edge for your brand:

1. Listening to Customers in New Places and Buying Stages with Social Media

Social media provides unprecedented access into customer thinking. Two examples:

  • Use social media monitoring to see where and how customers talk about your brand. Listen for challenges to help solve, issues with your own and competitive offerings, and customer-developed innovative adaptations.
  • Make it easy for customers to share perspectives through social media-based contests. Incent them them to share ideas, register complaints, and react to new ideas.

2. Talk with Lead Users

We use a market research strategy that focuses on talking in-depth with customers and industry experts who are on the forefront of strategic thinking and implementation. These discussions with people 3 to 5 years ahead of everyone else in an industry help identify what will keep you ahead of the rest of the market.

3. Small but Strategic Unconventional Moves

In many industries, leaders aren't doing dramatically different things. Strategic insights into subtle (often unarticulated) customer needs and flawless execution in addressing them can be enough to stay ahead of customers and competitors. To generate strategic insights, establish listening posts to monitor customers requests no one is addressing along with both customer and employee-precipitated innovative workarounds in your product or service.

4. Think about Your Business in General Terms

One fundamental in strategic thinking is detaching from day-to-day details of your business to view it in abstract, general terms. Focusing on business models, the broad assets your company possesses, and where/how you create value, put you in a position to unlock innovative opportunities more literal thinkers won't notice until too late. Determining strategic analogies representing what you do can unlock ideas working in other industries and situations that are novel to your own.

5. Move into Adjacent Markets

Nobody has done this better than Apple, with its disruption of multiple markets (video stores, cell phones, record companies, CD players, broadcasting, etc.) that on the surface looked nothing like its traditional computer market.  Anticipate new value you can bring to customers through strategically examining the benefits your company delivers. Then ask which players in other markets could deliver those same benefits. Not only will this signal new potential competitors, it can also point out markets you can disrupt to create innovative value for your customers.

6. Protect and Prioritize Challenging Ideas

Even after identifying moves to keep you in front of what your customers are looking for, you'll likely have a lot of work to keep decidedly non-status quo, uncomfortable ideas from getting killed inside your business! If your company is reluctant to move forward with game-changing ideas, work to understand potential issues and create a sense of comfort for ideas you're valiantly working to keep dramatic in the market.

The links within each of these ideas lead to more strategic background on how to adapt and implement strategies that better anticipate (and don't simply react to) your customers' needs. 

Plus More New Product Development Ideas

Here are several more articles on the Brainzooming approach to new product development that you can incorporate into your strategy:

Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.


New call-to-action