In business innovation is the word. It’s said so much that if it was a song, then the radio has given it too much airplay. Isn’t it time for something new? Well, maybe not.
My issue is not with the concept of innovation, it’s with hearing the word more than seeing the results. Right now, innovation talk feels more like the radio version of love which is very different from the real thing. On the radio we hear versions of
“I can’t breathe without you”
“I can’t live without you”
“I’ll take a bullet for you”
“I would die for you”
Radio love is high stakes and highly romanticized, but real love requires a more simple and consistent type of sacrifice:
“I’ll be here when you lay down and still here when you get up”
“I’ll love your children as my own, no matter what”
“I hear you”
Innovation is more…
…than just slinging that word on the front of your latest marketing campaign. And it’s more than technology and gadget updates. It’s a marriage.
When irrational ideas — at first glance — come face to face with smart, consistent actions, then something remarkable happens.
When active imaginations fall into the hands of a capable team, they alter things.
Think of it like this: A wedding is one thing, it’s all ceremony and party. But the marriage, the daily living and merging of two unique lifestyles and personalities — that’s the real work and the true beauty.
True innovation does the work and we get to experience the beauty of something that solves an old problem in a (re)new(ed) way.
Not always sexy, but always effective
Innovation is interesting; it doesn’t have to be flashy, cool or even sexy (tho it can be). It just has to be effective, simplier, smarter. To innovate is to introduce something new or to renew what you already have and give it a fresh life and voice.
As an artist and business owner pursuing a dream, there’s one thing to consider every step of the way.
Dreams don’t build themselves
You’re the builder. And the work you do has to be focused and targeted or it becomes a time suck — hours in, but no real reward coming out. In fact, you are constantly balancing at least 3 different types of marketing work: the Daily Grind, the Set-up and Launch, the Creative Storm
The Daily Grind is the consistent marketing that keeps your company going. Just like the phones have to be answered and bills paid, there has to be some basic, core, ongoing marketing behavior:
- you always have business cards,
- you consistently network on or offline,
- you religiously deliver and make good on your promises.
These are the basics, but it’s not the only ball in the air.
The Set-Up and Launch is what you do to bring a new marketing idea to life:
- you craft the initial message,
- you design the initial marketing images,
- you create your website, etc.
You do this every time you launch something new within your company or department. This process takes you from idea to concrete products, services and events. You have a concept, and decide to move forward. In fact, this is the kind of work that makes room for the daily grind, but there’s a step before you get here.
The Creative Storm gives birth to your best communication ideas. It’s inspiration and fresh thought:
- you brainstorm freely,
- you protect baby ideas until they’re strong enough to stand on their own.
- you fan the flames.
The creative work is the beginning of things. Unfortunately, it’s the first work forgotten inside the average business and on the average job. (Of course, learning to think like a true innovator isn’t average behavior).
Here’s my gritty little tip
Remember what the first idea felt like, what those early conversations about how to move forward did inside you. Protect that creative space — and you’ll find answers when other companies do not.
The creative storm will be your saving grace when you feel stuck professionally. It will spark your marketing process and flood your business/dream with new air. But you have to honor all three types of marketing work in order to get the most out of your message.
The Daily Grind keeps the business alive. The Set-up and Launch puts a system in motion. The Creative Storm inspires that first action. To build something remarkable — a remarkable book, a remarkeable team, a remarkable service or product — you have to honor the process, the whole process.
If you do, you’ll find plenty of marketing innovation.
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