“Innovation” is a word full of promises. It conjures up excitement, rallies hope, and speaks of growth for the days ahead.

In practice however, defining, communicating, activating and measuring innovation often takes a back-seat to BAU (business as usual) projects, with organisations delaying potentially game-changing, big-picture initiatives to pursue short-term wins.

Yet small tweaks or repeat campaigns year-on-year no longer cut it when trying to engage with your customers. Innovation must at the heart of your organisation, and here’s how to make it so.

Adapt to change 

Change is inevitable and the digital economy and intense competition has sparked a rapid change in the way people engage with their most admired and respected brands. As a result, businesses are struggling to keep up and the most common issues we see within organisations are skills and resourcing shortfalls, siloed communications, and lack of time and vision to truly move into the future.

Change is always difficult in organisations that hold onto legacy systems, procedures, teams and methodologies. This seems especially apparent in the NFP sector, where many organisations find themselves revisiting the same fundraising and community nurturing programs that have been tried and tested for years, yet when change is inevitable, it’s better to go with the current rather than against it.

Understand your customer experiences

An engaged customer base can form the heart of your brand’s differentiation and innovation tactics and organisations should take an active interest in listening to their most ardent fans and monitoring their behaviours. Through this lens, we can see beyond the short-term financial gains to opportunities that can foster powerful organic advocacy from within these communities to advance their growth.

Time and time again, we see examples of brands that want to tell their fans what they want to say, rather than engage them with stories that they want to hear. In today’s digital-first economy where consumers have access to any information at the click of a mouse, attention is currency. Without having a true understanding of the customer journey, motivations, drivers and obstacles, organisations can lose sight of conveying their truth authentically and in a way that compels action.

Look to others

Innovation does not happen in a bubble. Organisations can look to other sectors for examples of best practice consumer engagement techniques to help inform their own strategies. In Australia, many retailers have transformed their approach to content marketing by building relationships with their fans in social media channels and asking for the sale in channels such as email marketing. Seeing how other sectors treat customer engagement as a multi-channel experience can be quite a revelation for organisations that are used to doing things the same old way.  

It may also be useful for brands to collaborate and partner with other sectors to extend their reach into new territories that may otherwise be inaccessible.

Adopt a growth mindset

For innovation to be successful, organisations must start with a shared desire to evolve, improve and nurture their connections to continue their growth. Without this mindset and strategy in place, conventional ways of doing things remain unchallenged and innovation cannot find root.

For this to work, a strong platform for team communications is central to nurturing momentum for innovation. Siloed communications can create internal competition, disruptions and misunderstandings within teams. Sometimes, a great first step in the right direction is to invest in the right communication, tools and procedures.

Finally, organisations should be looking deeply into each of their customer touch points to unpack insights that can help them improve their interactions and show results to keep teams motivated and on track. Innovation is a long game, but at the heart of it, understanding, maintaining and harnessing the ongoing active relationships can be transformative in developing innovative cultures that can set organisations up well for the future.

Want your organisation to be bursting at the seams with innovation, but don’t know how to create the right environment for it? Get in touch with us today.