Innovation … has it become cliche?

Apr 04, 2011

By Debbie Frederiksen We all strive for it and talk about it in our marketing materials, but are we truly innovative or is it just fresh lipstick on the same old pig? It didn’t take long for me to find the following statements (and many others like them) on industry web sites: “We produce innovative designs,” “We foster an invigorating culture of innovation,” “We are an industry leader that pushes the innovation envelope.” Sound familiar? Fast Company recently published their list of “The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies.” As I perused the list, several common themes emerged. These firms dramatically impact their industries and customers through some very simple means. And we, as marketers, can take their lessons and apply them in our business development practices: 1) Personal engagement— In your writing and presentations, involve readers and audiences. Don’t talk at them, talk with them. There is a noticeable difference. When you ask thoughtful questions and provide specific relevant information, participants will recognize the personal investment you made in understanding their issues and needs. 2) Redefining processes— This broad concept can be applied to almost anything and everything in marketing. For example, think about the limitations of a 10’x10’ trade show booth. How do you get “outside the box” and reach potential clients? Are you still standing between your pull up banners and a draped table covered in brochures, pens and M&Ms? If so, it might be time to rethink your approach. 3) Social responsibility— Sustainable practices have essentially become a norm in this industry. Our buildings are required to meet LEED standards. Is marketing following suit? Are you printing and promoting materials that are recycled, tree-free, biodegradable, non-toxic, sustainable, reusable, or whatever process applies? It’s not only the right thing to do; most clients notice and respect it. Tom Kelley, author of The Ten Faces of Innovation, noted that “a culture of innovation may be the ultimate fuel for long-term growth and brand development.” Open your mind, fuel the fire, and take your firm’s marketing to a new level of innovation. I bet you will be surprised at what transpires.

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.