Are you bored with your product or services? Your customers probably are too.
In the 1970's you could sell the same product indefinitely by adding a new ingredient or minor feature every other year and slapping a NEW or IMPROVED on the label. In the last ten years the standard product cycle was about 2 years, but consumers still expected new color choices or materials sooner.
Currently the average product cycle is now 6 months. (Thanks Apple and Tim Cook!) If you aren't re-inventing yourself constantly, you're probably not getting the success you desire.
Your reinvention doesn't have to be major. You don't need to make sweeping changes. And it's probably better if you don't. Remember what happened when Coca-cola introduced New Coke? Disaster.
But Coke didn't stop innovating. What they've done with packaging alone is amazing. In 1978 their glass bottles' shape were so famous the shape alone held a patent. But the introduction of the 2 liter PET plastic bottle that year was innovative on a whole new scale. It became popular for a lot of reasons: it doesn’t break; it’s resealable, lightweight and recyclable. Then in 2000 Coke brought in the ultra-glass Contour Bottle designed for improved impact resistance, reduced weight and cost. These bottles were 40% stronger and 20% lighter than the original Coca‑Cola Contour Bottle – saving approximately 52,000 metric tons of glass in 2006. And when they couldn't innovate packaging further? They innovated the label. In 2014, Coke grew sales volume for the first time since 2000, according to Beverage Digest, primarily because of the “Share a Coke” campaign.
Even small changes can make a big difference to your customer. Rework your systems and see if you can find an innovative way to make your customers' life even a tiny bit easier.
Do you know what your voicemail says? How it sounds? Is your resort's check-out at 11 when the shuttle schedule leaves at 10 and 12 noon? Is your beautiful publication too large to hold by the woman you are targeting? How does your new paper supply react in high humidity? Does your process make it inconvenient for your customers to put away their receipts? (Sam's & Costco, I'm looking at you, two!)
Make sure your biases aren't holding you back. Do you have a recent problem with slow-paying customers? Have you researched why? While many companies have moved to emailed invoices exclusively, more and more people are checking email less often. Some companies are abolishing it completely in favor of messaging and project based applications. Is your invoice getting buried in the bottom of in-boxes? Caught by spam filters?
It might be time to embrace new technology. Have you implemented ApplePay? Checked out Google Wallet yet? Quickbooks allows customers to pay right from their invoice now the minute they open it. Sure, it's easier to keep the systems in place that have worked for years and we all struggle with change. But if a new billing or payment method could reduce your accounting manpower costs by even 10% wouldn't that be worth it?
Confused where to start? Ask your customers. Check your comment cards. Conduct a survey. Act like a customer and interact with you business.
Just think, a minor tweak or two is often the difference between having satisfied customers and having raving fans. Which do you want?
What innovations are you making today? Leave us a comment. We love hearing from you.