Forrester Re-invents the Wheel of Marketing Innovation

“The wheel was great, but what [has it] done for me lately?”

Burt Dumars, VP and Principal Analyst at research powerhouse, Forrester, kept the room captivated as he discussed innovation from a marketing and commerce perspective at eTail East, 2013.

“The one thing we’re all facing is digital disruption,” Dumars said, recalling the good old days when innovation that was born from Fortune 500 companies took millions of dollars, and an endless amount of time, months, years, even decades in some cases. Fast-forward to today, and innovation happens in seconds.

Ninety percent of the data on the internet has happened in the past two years, and it’s not hard to imagine why.

Circa 2013, there are 100x more innovations at one tenth of the cost. Think of all of the apps on your iPhone, Dumars stated. Innovation at your own company can change the company, can change the face of ecommerce. The possibilities are seemingly endless. And if you’re not innovating, you just might get lost in the dust.

We all know how hard it is to come up with something that is truly unique and original. The same can be said for innovation in the ecommerce space. Innovating in this day and age is getting harder and harder.

But why?

People are perpetually connected, and there is an ever-evolving customer lifecycle. They are buying every minute, every day, every week and every month. Keeping up with your customers is an even greater feat. Customers’ behaviors are constantly changing, and the new face of social commerce is changing the way people interact, how they consume, and even the way they interact with each other. Just thinking about it, let alone being a part of it, is exhausting!

What’s most shocking, Dumars said, is that only 11% of marketers have set aside a specific budget for marketing innovation efforts, according to a recent benchmark report that Forrester released. In every industry, across every medium, digital competitors are taking advantage of new platforms and tools to undercut competitors, get closer to customers, and disrupt the traditional way of doing business.

What’s they key to breaking away from the pack? According to Dumars: “The successful path of marketing innovation is through cultural change.”

Surveying case studies of cross-industry companies, from retailors spanning the spectrum – like Skinnygirl, Chick-fil-A, Nestle, and even… yes, 7-11 – Dumars detailed some of the crucial techniques that each company implemented to create truly unadulterated marketing innovation, and gave some crucial tips on how you can leverage your brand to do the same. Some key takeaways that you can bring back home to your organization:

– Be bold now and accelerate

– Best ideas come from the ground up

– Set a big audacious goal for your organization

He also said that marketing innovation is a mindset, and that we have to engage our executive team and who we’re hiring to get the job done. Though it may seem fairly basic, Dumars believes that it takes a concerted effort to bring it all together so that a company is able to really innovate.

“It is imperative to hire digital practitioners who are great communicators,” he said. “They can help your executives understand where they need to go in the digital space, and can be the ones that can say ‘This is the best way to approach this, and here’s why.’”

At the end of the day though, Dumars, like all great researchers in the ecommerce space, looked right back at the customer.

“Customer is king and the customer-obsessed wins,” he said. “Being customer obsessed is a winning strategy, and you can either step out in front of them and lead, or follow suit.”