Innovation With Purpose


This week I ran a Marketing Innovation Summit for one of our clients. I always enjoy pushing clients out of their comfort zone and out of their own industries to think differently about their businesses.

It's my job. #MarketingInnovationDay.

For me personally, the magic happens when I always end up learning something in the process as well.

I suppose it's proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks.

Given the hashtag used, you might guess that the topic was innovation in marketing, which of course can take many forms. So we had brand representatives from three different industries speak about their form of marketing innovation.

We wanted different thoughts on what innovation is about so that we could give our audience more to chew on, so to speak.

One spoke about iterative innovation, one spoke about digital innovation, and one spoke about creative innovation.

Three sides to a coin if you will.

But I did find a common theme emerging that carried across all three perspectives, and it was a bit of an AHA moment for me.

Innovation for innovation's sake lacks purpose. Just like technology for technology's sake lacks any meaning. It just becomes idle noise that customers don't absorb, or can't embrace, or quite frankly won't buy. Customers don't get it because it all sounds the same.

But when innovation has purpose, that's quite another story.


When innovation is filling a need gap or solving a problem or enhancing an experience then it becomes innovation that is tangible and real.

It becomes, well, innovation. YES!

So how can you tell when you're on to something with your innovation?

It's quite simple, actually, and it's a good test for you to use whenever you are leveraging a new innovation in creativity, technology, or process.

Ask yourself this question: are you talking about the innovation itself or are you talking about the impact it has on your customer?


If you are talking about the features and gadgets and gizmos of the innovation then you are likely wasting your marketing efforts. There's likely not much true innovation in any of that, and quite frankly nothing that will really get noticed or make much of a difference. Just being honest.

But if instead you are talking about the result it creates, then you have true meaningful innovation. If you are talking about the experience people will have, then you have innovation with purpose.

Then and only then will you have innovation that rises above the features and sets you apart.

Until you can answer that question, then I would argue you don't have innovation.

Only then will you too have an AHA moment with your customer.