Monday, August 22, 2011

 

9 ways to keep innovation alive in your marketing organization

When your company has an existing, proven method of conducting business, it can be a struggle to keep innovation alive. But innovation is a key factor in driving both real-time and future success, especially marketing in today's fast-changing and customer-driven world. Here are nine recommendations to motivate innovation throughout your marketing organization.

1. Encourage and reward (or require) teamwork
Creativity and ingenuity are occasionally products of the individual, but adding the ideas and resourcefulness of others or an entire group can accelerate innovation. Brainstorming sessions work to produce this effect, and collaborating on ideas in groups can help bring a project from the beginning stages to completion with the best results and breakthrough new ideas.

2. Prioritize diversity
Your team can bring to the table numerous, advantageous differences in culture, experience, expertise, thinking styles, and perspective. Use these as a catalyst and instigator (in a good way!) to innovation in your marketing strategy.

3. Stay flexible, and look to the future
Keep an eye on real-time marketing trends and be ready to act as soon as they start to change, or before. By forecasting trends, you'll be ready for the next big thing. This helps keep innovation alive in the marketing organization and is a great way to keep the ideas flowing.

4. Create a process for cultivating new ideas and marketing projects
Use this process (whatever works best for you) to build and evaluate new ideas. Just don’t make it too complicated. Innovation doesn't take place on a piece of paper, but it's a good place to start and keep a good inventory for regular triage. By keeping it simple, implementing such a process will be a great way to keep the marketing organization fresh and constantly thinking.

5. Let everyone contribute, even (or especially) employees outside of the marketing department
Other employees may have insight on new, innovative ways to reach your target audience. Too often, their ideas fall on deaf ears if they're voiced at all. Create open opportunities for employees throughout the organization to share their thinking in a safe, unbiased environment.

6. Track progress
Track the progress of everything. From individual performance to entire projects, everything should be treated as an experiment with regular reports and careful evaluations. This way, as soon as performance begins to decline, you'll know right away and will be able to address issues right away.

7. Create an incentive program
Reward employees for their ingenuity, creativity and performance. You can use small incentives, like gift certificates, to reward everything from novel ideas to outstanding performance on a project, and you can use bigger incentives, like an "employee of the month" award or bonuses, to reward your most consistent innovators.

8. Change things up
In a smaller company, cross-train your employees so that everyone understands at least a little about each department in the office. In a larger company with an established marketing department, switch the teams, groups and/or responsibilities up so that the same people aren't always covering the same projects or focus areas.

9. Reinforce what others know by teaching and training
Have your employees train their co-workers on skill sets they have particularly depth in. This will inspire others in the organization to help generate new ideas by using the knowledge your employees already have.



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