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What do a restaurateur and a financial wellness consultant have in common?
It may sound like the introduction to a bad joke but it’s actually a fitting comparison for 2020’s economic and business environment.
Both are entrepreneurs feeling the business impacts of COVID-19.
- Robert the restaurateur feels the social separation measures which keep customers away from his restaurant.
- Aamirah the financial advisor finds it hard to come by new wealth management clients amidst crashing global markets and business slowdowns.
While things may look grim for both entrepreneurs, what they don’t know is that there is a way to jumpstart their businesses even during economic lockdown.
In this post, the third part of our series – 8 Ways to Innovate Your Business, we’re taking a look at how to revamp products and services. Let’s see what Robert and Aamirah can do to stay innovative.
What are your products or services?
As a consumer, you consume products and services almost daily. Everything right down to the groceries you bought on Sunday are products that you buy for consumption.
As a business, products and services are what you trade with customers and clients to add value to their lives, often in exchange for their cash. Your products and services solve the problems that customers face.
For simplification, we’ll generalize the terms products and services to a single term – offerings.
Your unique offering is the ingredient to your success that differentiates your business from your competitors. It’s the secret sauce of how you can solve customer problems better, easier or faster than others. For innovating your products and services, it’s best to focus on the unique value that only you can provide.
Innovating your offerings isn’t something that has to be daunting or take many years to plan, develop and implement. Let’s take a look at two simple ways to innovate your unique offerings.
Expand your catalogue to offer both products and services
Aamira, the financial consultant, prides herself on the way she works with clients to offer them the best possible financial advice. She works on a case-by-case basis to assess the exact requirements her clients need and them the best possible wealth management portfolio.
What she provides is a service – her advice and expertise is non-physical yet brings her clients incredible value.
Especially during tough times when business is slow, she could innovate her offerings by adding to her inventory. She already offers a great service, but what if she added a product, too?
She could develop informational products such as brochures or e-books on financial health. She’s an expert in her field so developing digital files of her expertise could be a great way to attract new revenue streams. She can advertise and sell the information products to her clients and through her website.
By diversifying her catalogue and adding revenue streams, she can keep her consulting business financially viable during tough times.
Improve the tangible and intangible aspects of your offerings
Robert, the restaurant owner, offers tangible products – food – to his customers every time they come sit at his tables. His cookbook is diverse and his head chef makes amazing dishes that delight families and food critics alike.
Only, something isn’t quite right – his reviews online point out that while the food is great, the setting and atmosphere need some work. His dimly lit hole-in-the wall restaurant doesn’t attract anything more than local customers and his reviews are taking a hit.
Robert should invest some effort into improving the overall experience of his customers. His unique offering should involve two things – the food plates (the tangible aspect) and the mood and setting of the dining experience (the intangible aspect).
With the COVID-19 pandemic shutting dining rooms and shops all over the neighbourhood, Robert decides that now is a good time to invest in his location. He hires an interior designer to help improve the setting and enlists the help of an audio-visual expert to amp up the music and lighting of his location.
Once he’s able to open his doors to the public, his customers will enjoy a bold new experience and hopefully he can attract new customers from all over town and maybe even all over the country.
Guidelines for better product and service innovation
You may have noticed some commonalities to the above examples. If so, that’s great! The truth is, there are many tried and true ways you can innovate your value offerings.
Here are some guidelines that can apply to many industries. Try putting some of these tips as post-it notes in your office to help keep your mind thinking about innovation and improvements during your day-to-day:
- If you don’t know what can be improved, ask. Ask your customers, colleagues and clients about new products or services that can add value to their lives. Or, ask them how your current offerings can be improved to add even more value. Both will offer valuable insight as to how you can innovate your products and services.
- Eliminate what doesn’t work. Sometimes, innovating your offerings doesn’t involve adding something to the mix. Sometimes you have to make the hard decision of cutting something from your catalogue. Be smart about it – use the information you’ve gleaned from customer feedback to inform your business decisions.
- Combine fields of study. Sometimes you don’t have the right skills or expertise to do every aspect of your product innovation. In Robert’s case, he may know lots about food, but he needed help from designers and experts to get the full eating experience right at his restaurant.
- Keep your eye on the competition. Sometimes, the best new product ideas can come from watching what others do. You can stay one step ahead and add even more value to your clients by improving on your competitors’ services or products.
- Use new technologies and platforms. In today’s age, sometimes your competitive advantage is ready-made and available to you through digitized technology. For example, in addition to fixing his restaurant’s atmosphere, Robert can also expand into food delivery. To do so he can leverage digital platforms like Just Eat or Deliveroo which can provide him a steady stream of hungry customers looking for their next meal.
- Design a new offering from the ground-up. Sometimes, offering something completely new is the best way to diversify your product catalog. Do you have an inspiration for a new product idea? Designing a business offering from the ground-up is where experts at Innovolo can add immense value to your business. Try having a quick and 100% confidential conversation about your product idea with Innovolo.
In the next article in our series on 8 Ways to Innovate Your Business, we’ll look at methods to improve the business process at your company. Improving how you do things can be every bit as important as improving what you do. Check it out here [insert link].