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International Marketing Consultants Durham

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Millenium Marketing
01642 732175
Unit 41
Middlesbrough

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Micheal Cratchley Marketing & P.R
01642 582691
The Stables
Stockton On Tees

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Finn Copywriting
01642 787529
32 Albert Road
Stockton On Tees

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Sundial Ltd
01207 528704
3 Parkhead
Stanley

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Dreamland
01642 677005
80-82 Norton Road
Stockton On Tees

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Pearsons
01642 866000
Cleveland Business Centre
Middlesbrough

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Winning Sales
01388 420411
7 Tudhoe Hall Farm Court
Spennymoor

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M J Marketing
01642 470691
13 Sandown Park
Redcar

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Neil Whelpton Associates
01325 378274
Rowan House
Northallerton

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Designers Market Place
(777) 157-7672
Albert Road
Middlesbrough

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Marketing innovation; creative thinking

(First appeared in Second Opinion Marketing e-bulletin June 2010 - subscribe to the e-bulletin here )

Discussions with one of my clients about a presentation he’s to give at a conference on innovation set me thinking this month. How can we all be more innovative in our approach to clients, products or business as a whole?

I read recently about some advice given to the Ford Motor company in America on how they could compete in Europe. The advice, apparently given to them by leading world authority on creative thinking, Edward de Bono, was not to focus on changing or improving the products, to forget pricing offers or discounts but instead to focus on improving the whole driving experience. Ford was told to buy car parks and only allow Ford drivers to park in them.

I’m not sure Ford took this advice but it’s certainly an example of radical thinking that could have put a whole new focus on Ford. The idea of creating a ‘club’ for users is something other car manufacturers have played with. In the first few years of the new Mini there was a real sense of community amongst Mini drivers, created in part by the drivers’ handbook which included advice such as flashing your headlights at other mini drivers.

Innovation in Action

There are lots of other examples of businesses that have turned a traditional industry or product sector on its head. Ikea for example took furniture retailing into a completely new realm and created a new furniture replacement culture which means they have customers who will return each time they redecorate. For my parent’s generation buying a dining table and chairs or a sofa was a major purchase and you expected the furniture to last 10, 15 years or longer. The Ikea buyer is likely to replace their sofa or kitchen table every 3 or 4 years and will alter their soft furnishings far more frequently.

Amazon has changed the face of book retailing, probably forever. Operating a low or no stock model they can offer an unbelievable range of books on any topic you care to mention, yet with minimal overheads.

Stelios Haji-Ioannou at Easy Jet revolutionised the airline industry with the first, no frills, low cost airline. In the early 1980s Swatch brought innovation to the most traditional trade, watch making. Like Ikea, they introduced fun and fashion into what traditionally had been an industry of precision and craftsmanship, with functional products commanding a relatively high price. Swatch made watches that were so cheap you could have a different one to go with each outfit or to suit your mood yet still delivered Swiss made quality.

The Conditions for Innovation

Most readers of this ebulletin are small businesses or independent professionals. So how can we learn from the innovation and creative thinking of these household names?

The first thing I note is that they all have a desire to innovate, to stand out, to offer more. The client I mentioned in the o...

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