I was talking with BlogTalkRadio maven Tachelle Daniels about strategies to help identify innovative business ideas to stay in front of customers. The topic is intriguing and sent me back into the Brainzooming blog for these 6 strategies which contribute toward achieving a compelling, innovative marketplace edge:

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, incenting them to share ideas, register complaints, and react to new ideas.

2. Talk with Lead UsersThis Monday’s post discussed a market research strategy we use to talk in-depth with customers and industry experts 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.

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.

If you have time, click on the links for these six ideas to get a little more strategic background on how to adapt and implement them to better anticipate (and not simply react to) your customers’ needs with innovative business ideas. – 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 [email protected] or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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6 Responses to “6 Strategies – Innovative Business Ideas to Stay Ahead of Customer Needs”

  1. Geoff Snyder says:

    This is a great post and I will be sharing this with my #custserv friends on Twitter.

    I really like the focus you put on keep the basics in place as a foundation for customer service, while using newly introduced tools to aid and attract current, as well as new customer service needs. I feel that these 6 strategies are great for the organizations that currently have their hands up in the air and don’t know what to do to take the next step forward.

    Thank you again for another great post!


    • Mike Brown says:

      Appreciate the comment and RTs Geoff!

      I really enjoy where your focus on customer service got me re-thinking the post. In grabbing links, I had new product/service development as the theme in the back of my head. Thinking more explicitly about customer services may suggest other strategies or links to include.

  2. Tonya Welch says:

    Thanks for the post. I can’t help notice that half of the strategies revolve on engaging the customer in some form, either by social media, in-depth interviews, or establishing listening posts. Ultimately, successful businesses are providing a product or service that adds value to their customer’s lives and tapping into those needs and desires is half the battle. I look forward to more of your work.

  3. Chris C. says:

    Great post. You offer a lot of insightful tips. I think a lot of companies lose sight of some of these basic ways to meet the needs of their customer base. The first few tips I feel are especially important, actually reaching out to engage the customers by creating a dialogue; it not only shows the customers you care, but also it is a way to get information to further your product/service quality.


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