Breakthrough Innovation

Last week I talked about my concept of “heartshare.” Marketshare is about getting more clients; mindshare is about getting them to remember us. Heartshare is about becoming more influential by creating extraordinary customer experiences. We do this by leveraging our intangibles. One of the intangibles that we can leverage is innovation. The most productive innovation involves revolutionizing processes that create greater customer satisfaction, rather than merely product improvement.

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Breakthrough Innovation
Innovation has become a mandatory objective for all businesses rather than the optional advantage it once was. Innovation offers numerous benefits that can help to win market share and mind share. True innovation also allows us to capture a greater share of heart:


  • Increases market share by overstepping the competition.
  • Increases mind share by making our products and services more memorable and attractive.
  • Increases heart share by achieving greater efficiency and a smoother customer experience.

Levels of Innovation
Like anything else, there are different levels at which we can innovate. Over the years, I have identified four levels of innovation: Standard, Specialized, Extraordinary, and Breakthrough Innovation. What I do not address here are companies that are operating with a zero level of innovation. God help you if you are in this category. You need to move and move FAST to start developing an innovation strategy immediately. It behooves all of us to look at how we can innovate to win greater share of market mind and heart. Let’s look at how we can accomplish this.

Standard Innovation
The first level of innovation (Standard Innovation) merely allows us to keep pace with the changes in our industry. I like to call this survival innovation. At this level, companies innovate their products and services only enough to survive. This is a kind of reactive rather than proactive innovation. These organizations are merely reacting to the competition’s innovations. I guess you can say they’re just keeping up with the Joneses. This is the level at which most organizations are performing.

Specialized Innovation
The next level of innovation traveling up the continuum is “specialized innovation.” This typically occurs when an organization adapts their product or service to a specific marketplace or subgroup. For example, when I was in the consumer electronics business I did some consulting for a company called Bogen. They manufactured PA systems (public address systems). When this market went south, they literally saved their company from extinction by innovating all of the internal elements of their business to the marine marketplace. This was a very small but profitable and virtually untapped subgroup. The production, technical, and service innovations were relatively minor to accomplish this. Bogen quickly captured nearly 100% market share and mind share among the marine subgroup. Most importantly, they snagged a good deal of heart share since all of the other amplifier manufacturers had ignored the marine dealers and distributors.

Extraordinary Innovation
Just as it sounds, this innovation is out of the ordinary. This is where organizations can leverage their uniqueness in any combination of the processes to deliver a level of innovation that their competitors are not currently offering. Let me tell you about a client that we’ve worked with that has built some astounding innovation into their production and service guarantee. The company is Pelican Products. Their claim… “You break it. We replace it. Forever.” This is not marketing hype. The company manufactures cases and flashlights that are virtually indestructible. The product is sold to the military, law enforcement, fire, and emergency agencies. This guarantee is unmatched in their industry and their competitors are stymied by their ability to continue to offer this year after year. Even more amazing, Pelican tells me their return rate is less than 1%! How do they do this? By innovating the guarantee right into the product. How big is the market for industrial cases and flashlights? The company will do almost $100,000,000 this year. It helps to have massive heart share.

Breakthrough Innovation
Breakthrough innovation occurs when an organization makes a revolutionary advancement in one or more of the innovation processes. In this case, a company will deliver a level of innovation that their competitors are NOT EVEN CAPABLE of offering. Many times these organizations literally create monopolies that admittedly have a half-life, yet permit them to rapidly capture huge market, mind, and heart share almost instantly. Can you say Microsoft? 

What level of innovation are you achieving in your own business? What can you do to CREATE innovation? If you’re not at the “breakthrough level” in every area, don’t despair, you’re not alone. On the contrary, if you are achieving breakthrough innovation in even a SINGLE category, you are rather unique. 

In fact, I’m willing to offer a special gift to the reader with the most innovative breakthrough (an advance copy of our Attract More Business Program – valued at $499). Just email a description of your innovation and we will announce the winner on the Small Business Hour on 97.1 FM as well as in the Business Update.

Next week we will talk about the areas of innovation and the four steps to CREATING innovation. We will look at how we can innovate our sales approach, management strategy, marketing communications, products, services, production, systems, processes, and even the culture of our organizations.

Posted in Growth Strategies, Uncategorized.

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