Inspiring Minds: Why Great Innovation Needs Great Marketing

Review by Catriona Summers, Guy & Co

Inspiring my mind was just the remedy on a chilly Thursday WFH afternoon…

And this session about the dependencies of innovation & marketing really delivered. Firstly, two speakers who came at the subject from very different product & service perspectives – John Barnard from the clinical world of health-tech (diabetes to be precise); Aarti Joshi from the fast & fickle world of live music events. From my own agency background, I’m used to working on product innovation in FMCG & spirits, so it was really interesting to hear the different opportunities & challenges they faced in their respective sectors.

For me, there were three killer quotes & takeouts…

1. “Don’t let anyone steal your lunch”

It’s no surprise that to make a great innovation succeed you need to tell people about it. But I liked the way that John framed a way of killing the competition by creating barriers to entry in your creative messaging. His example from Dexcom was drawing analogies about a cheaper competitor product to dramatise their USP of continuous glucose monitoring – a cunning and disruptive approach, executed to great effect…


2. “It’s not about ego or control”

Aarti spoke about the importance of collaboration to the innovation process, and of embracing passion, competitiveness and even conflict within the project team.

I couldn’t agree more. When we run ideation sessions we always cast diversely from both client and agency sides, creating a melting pot of perspectives & expertise, which broadens the thinking and sharpens the output. From a client perspective, as she described, it’s also an important way of bringing stakeholders on the journey and giving them a sense of ownership so they’re bought in. In getting an innovation over the line and out to market, collaboration & passion are the crucial links in the chain.

3. “Have the courage to fail”

Both speakers spoke about embracing failure and weren’t afraid to talk about flops from their own careers. Refreshingly honest and super smart.

Of course there are ways of minimising failures and taking calculated risks, with test markets and digital test & learn discussed by the speakers. But for me it’s this cultural leap of faith that’s key to successfully embedding innovation within a business, and to brand survival during especially turbulent times. To be an innovative brand is to plan failure loops and be ready to pivot.

The future is accelerating faster than ever – 2020 has been case in point, with consumer needs & demands changing overnight. And in this new normal, playing it safe is risky business. Something that these speakers highlighted so well.


Catriona Summers - Client Services Director, Guy & Co


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