Get Your Marketing Team in on the Innovation Process
Manufacturing sometimes gets a deserved label as a technology laggard. But it takes more time to shift factories that make physical things than software that delivers as-a-service. And it’s changing. Manufacturers might still be viewed as lagging behind the tech bigwigs, but they have found ways to reinvent their companies for the long haul. In fact, manufacturers have been leading the innovation charge since the Industrial Revolution.
Here are a few MAPI members showing us how it’s done over a centennial or more.
- 3M was founded in 1902 as a mining company. 3M is now a household name for its wide variety of products. Fast Company named 3M as one of “2019’s most innovative companies,” so it’s not slowing down anytime soon.
- Briggs & Stratton started as a partnership focused on the automotive business in 1908. During WWI, they shifted operations to make grenade casings to help the war effort. Today you can find their engines, generators, and other products throughout the globe.
- Harley-Davidson was founded in 1903 and grew to the iconic motorcycle manufacturer we know today. While Harley-Davidson has always focused on bikes, they grew from a small engine that fit on a bicycle to the wide variety of options, including an electric motorcycle line.
- Victaulic is celebrating I00 Years of Innovation. Pipe joining, grooving, and flow control solutions have empowered the infrastructure of cities, buildings, transportation, and safety. Now Victaulic has added smart capabilities to enhance its products to add data and a new layer of capabilities to its solutions.
How can marketing help your innovation process?
As a marketer, I can’t help but look at innovation with a marketing lens. It’s critical marketing is embedded in the innovation process. CEO Insight notes, “Creating customer value is marketing’s fundamental mission.” Too often, however, marketing is brought into the process when a new product is close to market testing versus the ideation phase. If that describes your company, consider engaging marketing earlier in the process.
Customers are our people.
Marketers probably know more about your customers than your most valued, longstanding customer rep. Why? Because we have all the fun toys.
Marketing was, and remains, one of the first functions disrupted by new technology. Think about the dot-com era, e-commerce, social media, programmatic ads, predictive analytics, and AI, to name a few. For many consumers, we first saw these technologies in a marketing component of customer engagement. By using traditional and emerging technologies, marketing teams can use data to deliver new levels of insights on how to find and keep customers for life.
We represent the outside voice.
Strategic marketers don’t just understand customers; they understand the market. Having a marketing viewpoint in your innovation strategy often delivers an outside perspective that can challenge internal thinking to hopefully prevent a version of New Coke or Crystal Pepsi (so much more data is now available than in the 1980s and 90s, so no offense to our beverage friends). It’s marketing’s job to think like our audiences – the current and the future versions.
Most marketers are people-people. Meaning whether you are B2C or B2B, we’re talking to people in their language to understand their needs, wants, and what they haven’t even articulated (or perhaps thought of) yet. This is a strong complement to engineering and design teams to give a comprehensive view of a new offering’s viability.
I’m biased on this topic. But your marketing team can deliver so much value beyond the tactical. Take advantage of your talent and find new voices of innovation for your team.
Whatever your role, if you’d like to get inspired and get some practical knowledge to help you make a difference in your innovation strategy, join MAPI at Power Up Innovation: The CX & Product Management in Manufacturing Conference this April.