Taking the Pain Out of Product Development
Organization Name: Ready2Grow Consulting
Industry: Business Consulting
Founder/Owner: Lois Raats
Web references: Ready2Grow, FastCompany.com, Freedictionary.com, John Dragoon, Forbes.com, FastCoCreate.com,
What is your earliest memory? Now really, really think back. It’s tough because today we’re all very focused on thinking about the future, what’s to come that we forget even what’s in front of us, the right NOW. so, getting back to the past – your earliest memory? Ok, I’m going to put it out there, and I hope you will too, because to re-visit that is so very telling about who you really are. My very earliest memory was, are you ready? – sitting in a mud puddle making mud pies. Ridiculous, of course – but not. I recall enjoying myself tremendously, as only carefree kids can. If I took that literally as the direct indication of my future, I suppose I should be a potter. But I have gone in the creative direction – including photography, interior design and marketing.
Marketing is my field of choice today. I am fascinated by the creativity that it takes to keep those innovative products and details flowing out to the customer. The process not very long ago to get a new product to market was to produce a press release, set a date at which it would launch, then go on a road trip to talk to well connected reporters about the new product. Come launch day, you would see the articles published and the public would read and know about the new product. The buzz spawned sales. It was that simple.
So much has changed, that even the definition of marketing needs to be totally overhauled. It seems so – for lack of a better word – wrong. The meaning of marketing includes buying and selling in the marketplace, and appealing to particular groups of consumers. Rather prehistoric.
How about a bit of sci-fi?
Enter Social Media. The advent of social media has become the pipeline in creating that next new, innovative product. Essentially, if done correctly, social media can be that customer service line – a direct, two-way viaduct to what is needed to produce in order to stay current and solve customer’s problems. And staying current is critical to business survival today.
THE CREATIVE ELEMENT
There is one essential element that is still needed here. Creativity. That’s the spark, the gel, the ticket to taking the consumer’s concerns, frustrations and even glowing reviews and take it to the next level. This is such an integral part of the development of new solutions that it cannot be ignored. Take John Dragoon in his article on Forbes.com where he states, “Yet while creative ad and marketing types are running for the agency door, CEOs are looking for more creative minds, begging the question: Is creativity depreciated or simply misunderstood? In a recent IBM research study, CEOs from around the world cited “the rapid escalation of complexity” as the biggest challenge confronting them and their organizations. These same CEOs identified creativity as “the single most important leadership competency for enterprises seeking a path through this complexity.” Marketing and creative types who bemoan their roles and their perceived value are missing a unique opportunity and invitation to lead. Creativity, after all, is not valued as an end itself but a critical means to that end.”
So while it’s key to remain targeted in regards to the end goal – getting products in the hands of the consumers – creativity cannot be forgotten. This is further discussed in How Marketing Will Change in 2015: The Creative Forecast by Jeff Beer. In particular, in response to the question, “What Are You Hoping to Do More Of?”, John Patroulis, chief creative officer, Bartle Bogle Hegarty Creative Agency, NY says:
“More soul, more instinct, more humanity. More human truths, less advertising truths. More innovative solutions instead of good versions of expected solutions. More taking all the information we have, all the data and feedback and activity, and using it as another tool of creativity, instead of a tool of paralysis. Less pretty much anything that isn’t the above.”
Beautiful. Can’t say it any better myself. But remember, taking that consumer information, data and feedback is not to be forgotten. It still needs to be blended together to create that-better-than-the-sum-of-it’s-parts winning product for the consumer.
“MORE INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS INSTEAD OF GOOD VERSIONS OF EXPECTED SOLUTIONS”
Lois Raats is a champion of social media. As the owner of Ready2Grow, a business consulting firm in Waterloo, ON, she takes charge and takes care of the details in getting businesses back on track. It takes vision, and it takes great deal of focus. In her interview with me, she clarifies a slice of what she sees as what is critical to remaining connected to the consumer audience while providing value.
As she notes, creating a piece of value for her audience causes more interaction and builds the relationship. This is what will maintain connectivity with the customer base moving forward.
But above all, it’s listening skills that are stellar, bar none. She carves out innovative solutions fashioned to empower. Here’s more about what she has to say about tailoring her skills to her clients on LinkedIn. You’ll see that she is adept at making the solution a custom fit. What better way to to define customer involvement than to custom carve the service to the individual consumer?
“I have worked hard over the years to develop a wide range of skills and thinking tools. My natural curiosity has led me to the diverse fields of counseling, organization development, leadership and team development, business strategy, design thinking, marketing, sales, and many other areas of interest. I have continually studied whatever my clients have needed me to learn in order to best serve their interests.”
Raats doesn’t work in a vacuum. With over 500 contacts on her LinkedIn page, there are countless bonds she has made. It obvious that she’s able to inspire professionals from all walks of life and make their lives better and more productive. Social media connectivity is fine tuned here. It is further elaborated by Massimo Zefferino, whom she was able to help by re-thinking what his company, ‘zfactor’, should look like after 15 years.
Along with LinkedIn, Raats has insightful information to share on her Facebook page and Twitter feed – about, you guessed it – listening to the customer and making sure that social media is a two way enterprise. The future social media is not sci-fi after all, but at hand, provided we are open to generating a creative response to consumer demands.
Tune in, not out – with focus. Utilizing social media is the key to offering current products and services. But staying in tune with the interactive process – the give and take that occurs as a result of the two way communication, will uncover the data that you need to produce products and services that are valid. The key is to remain focused – there is a lot out there that is just not applicable.
Tap into the energy. It’s only a matter of time before you run out of fresh concepts. Before this happens, ensure that that you have the feelers out to keep current and even ahead of the very crowd that you are serving.
Keep it going. Creating new, tailored products and services isn’t a short term assignment. Staying in the social media milieu means to remain abreast of change.
Submitted By: Dianne McBride
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