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A call for an open-minded attitude in marketing innovation

Sometimes I really get the impression that I don’t get understood.

Not long time ago I had a meeting with the marketing manager of a big and renowned Belgian company. I came there to present an innovative consumer behavior-related idea that I had had and that I wanted to test.

It was my first encounter with the marketing manager and I had prepared a very short presentation with some key facts about IntoTheMinds and background information on why the idea was relevant for their business. It was an innovative idea that had the potential to address some behavioral concerns and promised to impact long-term loyalty. This idea was inspired by my own research on customer satisfaction and the more and more tedious link that researchers have been discovering over the last few years. Still it needed to be discussed with practitioners and improved.

During the presentation I already got signals that my message was not going through. Although I was using references to some well-known concepts and was trying to raise my case with figures and hard facts, I was feeling resistance. Quickly the first hurdles were mentioned. Nothing wrong with that. A new idea can never be perfect from the first time and it was there anyway to test its relevancy. What I was not happy with was the attitude of the manager who just stopped thinking about the added value the idea may have for the company. He kept focusing on the first hurdle and never tried to overcome it. This can’t-do mentality disturbs me; very much. What I was also annoyed about was the lack of knowledge of the manager. Basic concepts were not mastered, knowledge of actual and future consumer behavior was missing. We had just no common basis for discussion and under such circumstances one cannot expect an open-minded discussion.

My take:

You read it every single day : globalization is threatening our companies, competition has never been so hard, innovation is the key, and so forth and so on. How can companies be innovative if key people just aren’t innovative, curious by nature ? How can innovation be achieved if key people are just not knowledgeable enough to think different and create new forms of value for customers ?

It’s been more than 10 years now that I started doing consulting and after all those years I found a common point between our success stories. The entrepreneurs with whom we worked all wanted to deeply change their way of doing business and of seeing their industry. Sometimes I really wonder if I still want to do advise companies which are not willing to transform themselves. Maybe that’s what I should specialize in: business transformation.

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Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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