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International Marketing Consultants Staffordshire

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Fielder Green Associates
01746 765576
Central Court Shops
Bridgnorth

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Friary Marketing Onsulting Group
01543 255306
19-20 The Dell
Lichfield

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Heritage International Marketing
01902 422822
12 Stewart Street
Wolverhampton

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4 Peaks Ltd
01746 761829
9 Brook Hollow
Bridgnorth

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Connexions
01538 703334
Wyndhaven House
Stoke On Trent

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Androne Group
01902 482479
West Midlands House
Willenhall

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Sponge Marketing Ltd
01785 241048
St.Chads Place
Stone

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Accelerate Associates
01782 791199
Standon Old Hall
Stafford

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Creation Design & Marketing
01785 716136
Pinfold Lane
Stafford

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Severn Side Marketing Ltd
01785 251274
60 Burton Manor Road
Stafford

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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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