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“Innovation” is one of those overused buzzwords that has lost its meaning. Companies are innovative in their thinking . . . or their approach . . . or in the products they make.

As marketers working with manufacturers, we see innovation all the time. To us, innovation means that a company solves a problem – whether big or small, on the production line or elsewhere in the plant – that helps improve a process or make the product better.

Innovation can be found in how a company approaches developing a culture where new hires have a voice in solving legacy issues, or taking a chance on new marketing tactics in the face of a pandemic that’s changed everything.

What follows are some ideas about innovation, from people we think provide a fresh approach in their thinking and how they do business.

Innovation is positive change

“Innovation is the alchemical process of creating change which results in the positive evolution of a process, product or idea made manifest in reality.”

– Nathan Dube, Digital Marketing Specialist, Industrial Packaging

Innovation is everywhere you look

“Everybody thinks all the great ideas come outta MIT, but let me tell you, there’s a great deal of innovation that comes off the factory floor.”

– John D. Bassett, III, Chairman, Vaughn-Bassett Furniture (from the book, Making It in America)

Innovation creates value

“The best definition of innovation I’ve heard is ‘the process of creating value by applying novel solutions to meaningful problems.’ True innovation is derived from the actual implementation – that is where the value lies. Without value being created by applying those novel solutions, you are simply dealing with an idea or invention.

– Raleigh Ragan, President, The Ascend Group, Inc.

Innovation solves problems

“Innovation is the product of the combination of courage and curiosity to solve problems for buyers. Commercializing innovation is an act of faith and perseverance. Legitimate innovation is a good barometer for a company’s vitality.”

– Ed Marsh, Founder & Principal, Consilium Global Business Advisors

Innovation is profitable

“What I teach in my consulting practice is that innovation is not just the eureka moment of discovery, but the total integration of design, manufacturing, test and measurement. Commercialization of emerging technologies often requires innovation in all of these areas, and how a company apportions and understands risks in these areas will determine whether you make it to market profitably or not. It’s Time to Profit, NOT Time to Market that is the true measure of success.”

– Gary J. Ainsworth, Principal Consultant, Arc Completa, Inc.

Innovation builds trust

“Innovation in today’s challenging climate means building trust in your brand through digital marketing strategies that include content development tactics designed to build a relationship and establish trust.

“Video testimonials and case studies showcasing how your product has ‘delighted customers’ and solved their problems are key in building trusting relationships with your brand. Innovation is moving money away from traditional tactics like trade shows, which are being affected by the pandemic, to tactics that build trusting relationships.”

– Troy Wurth, Fractional CMO, ExecHQTM

Dianna Huff is the founder and president of Huff Industrial Marketing, a full service agency that tackles a host of marketing and communications challenges for manufacturing companies.

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