Will David Lose the battle to Goliath this time ? When Being Innovative is just not enough !

So many times we read article after article about product innovations , Technological innovations , marketing innovations , frugal innovations which can relate to anything from manufacturing to supply chain or local distribution structure . It leaves the reader with a false sense of assurance that if your offering is innovative enough , you will invariably succeed. The reality on the other hand is far from that.

Innovation alone can never guarantee success . Although lot many people will tell you that if u can list down all the variables and then can keep them constant , you have more or less nailed the formula to success. The only thing u have possibly ruled out by sticking to a list is somewhat of a surprise when shit hits the fan . But in no way am I saying that don’t make a list , I am personally a big fan of listing down tasks. It helps me plan better . But a list is just a starting point . It cant and shouldn’t replace common sense and ability to think on your feet.

As a marketer I come across many people who completely ignore the competition , refuse to acknowledge the market dynamics and their sole basis of being in the battle is that the other guy (read nearest competitor) too is working the same . Unfortunately this other guy in all probability is a multi million dollar corporation with mega bucks to blow on marketing. Sometimes we are so trapped and blinded by our own vision that we absolutely and completely fail to see the big wall that we are trying to drive right into . Every business school graduate does so many case studies on what caused a great company to fail , it should serve as a cautionary tale for the rest of their lives.

So then what works if innovation alone , cant do it ? Until unless u r Apple in which case whatever you bring and whatever you charge will create new sales record , its always a mix of good ole’ 4P’s of marketing . Make your Product good , Price it right , Make it available at all the right customer touch points and Promote the hell out of it . Simple isn’t it .. let me remind you of a quote from Steve Jobs “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

The 4P’s of marketing have been quoted for long enough for all of us to understand that whatever u do , wherever you go , as long as you are in the business you will use some form of it .

So lets take a stab at Pricing . How does one arrive at the right price ? It simply cannot be a factor of your production and distribution cost . Cost to market will sometimes also involve the per unit marketing cost . Other than this you also need to factor in the broad range of pricing in which your competitors sell , How sensitive is the consumer to pricing , Will a higher price bring a premium value ? Or will you compromise on your margin to establish a product / brand . Lets take a look at few examples , Coke and Pepsi are priced identically but have their own fan following , On the other hand despite the fact that frito lays are so much cheaper , Pringles have never bothered to change their pricing . They have a premium image and they charge for that . In case of mobile devices despite the fact that Apple may not have the most technologically advanced product they have always created a category leader and charged for the same .

Next comes Place . This is becoming a increasingly difficult question given the plethora of options available . Will you chose online or offline , or a combination of both . Whichever option you choose , you still have to figure out who will list and sell for you , how much will the ecommerce platform charge you , and which platform to choose . This will again be decided by the value of product and typical buying pattern of consumers . Although sometimes you do see companies trying to break pattern . Recently India based fashion etailer Myntra closed down its desktop site and became app only . As a etailer this might pay in the long run but as a product company , its not advisable to take such risk initially. Its always the beach head strategy which saves the day for most.

Now comes the big giant of Promotion . An awesome product which is available every where still may not move since no one knows about it . These days again given the number of options available it is fairly complex to plan a promotion strategy . The most important factor is to align your Promotion strategy to the language of your target audience. Once you have narrowed down your target audience it is easy to promote it on the platforms where one gets a chance to monetize the attention . From Vine to Snapchat and Facebook to twitter the customer touchpoints are numerous . Work backwards , and you will arrive successfully at the answer to all your promotional needs . And don’t forget that the person at the other end of the screen is also a human so keep your communication simple . Always focus on what solution / what need are you fulfilling for the customer .

And all of the above are based on the assumption that you have a product or a service already available and in some way ; it does solve a customer problem.

To Quickly summarise now , Innovation is good but in isolation it will fail and fall miserably , so it needs to be supported well on all quarters .

Happy Selling FOLKS … and happy innovating too !!!

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