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3 big ideas on modern-day innovation

3 big ideas on modern-day innovation

Amy Kelly  |  June 29, 2020

Over the course of five days, some of the world’s biggest brands took to the digital stage at Madfest’s 99 Club event to present their big idea—in just 99 seconds. 


At the June event, we heard from marketing leaders from Heinz, Made.com, Starling Bank, O2, Just Eat, and many more exciting brands.

‘Emerge Stronger’ was the theme of the event, with brands talking about how they’re planning and innovating to better themselves in a post-COVID-19 world. 

Below are three big ideas around innovation that stood out during the event.

1. Innovation doesn’t mean transformation

When the word ‘innovation’ hits the boardroom table, heads can fall into hands at the idea of mass transformation, but we’ve heard before, from the likes of Adrian Swinscoe, that innovation can purely mean effective ‘evolution’ at its finest. And this is exactly what Milton Elias, Head of Platforms and Innovation at News UK, reinforced in his 99 seconds. He reminded us of how the basics got us to where we are now and how true innovation may be more about stripping down to the essentials rather than adding new features.

A new innovation strategy could be as simple as asking ourselves: “What were the first things we did that worked well and what have we learned from it?” In the beginning, without benchmarks or best practices, it was likely left to our instincts and the creative ideas we felt excited about. Innovating on those original ideas by building on the basics could be the key to creating your next strategic plan of action.

The basics are far too often overlooked—when they could be your most powerful advantage. So take some time for a walk down memory lane to remember what worked well in the past and where you can now iterate on that strategy or campaign. 

2. Metrics can be limiting

Measurement, big data, and analytics have taken center stage over the last decade of marketing practice, but it may be time to consider if you’re measuring too much. Nick Bamber, Chief Growth Officer from Missguided, talked about how measurement may be limiting growth. In order to innovate, you may, at times, need to go easy on the metrics to leave room for creative thinking, which may not always be easy to measure.

The next time you’re faced with innovation planning, put objectives in place to evaluate success, but don’t let the metrics limit your possibilities. It’s difficult to know for certain where the unmeasurable could take you, but with risk can come great reward.

3. Customer empathy underpins innovation

When it comes to innovation there’s no better place to start than with your customers.  By gathering real human insight, you can better understand your customers’ wants and desires to be sure you’re innovating on the right things at the right times. 

It was incredible to hear so many brand leaders talk about the importance of customer voice and how soliciting feedback was something that a shocking amount of businesses need to improve on. Pete Markey, Chief Marketing Officer at TSB, also expressed, during his Q&A, how vital the voice of the customer is in everything they do. 

Justin Berkovi, Chief Product Officer at Your.MD, spoke to the power of listening for brand building and how crucial it is to bring your customers along the journey with you—highlighting how his team uses the UserTesting Human Insight Platform to test his brand positioning and messaging with real people to ensure he’s exceeding their expectations. 

We have to capture the hearts and minds of the here and now for our users … We use Live Conversation in the UserTesting platform to connect to our users over video, one on one, where we can read their physical emotions, facial expressions and more. We put products, prototypes and brand messaging in front of these users, before going to market. We get validation and we get results instantly. -Justin Berkovi, Chief Product Officer, Your.MD

Our Chief Insights Officer, Janelle Estes, took to the digital stage on customer experience day and shared how empathy is now the marketer’s secret to CX success and should be the foundation of all marketing campaigns. 

To build an exceptional experience, organisations must put the real voice of their customers at the center of it. And this is only done by talking to and connecting to the humans that power your business. -Janelle Estes, Chief Insights Officer, UserTesting

I also spoke at the event and focused on the importance of not just knowing your audience, but knowing them even better than you already do.

What do these big ideas mean?

As marketers, we should all approach our work with open eyes and ears. Because business is human, it’s critical to bring the voice of the customer to the table. By genuinely connecting with real people, you’ll be able to ensure you’re launching campaigns with confidence.

If you’d like to hear the 99-second talks by Janelle, Justin, and me, check them out below.

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About the author:

Amy heads up our Marketing team in Europe. When she’s not working hard on promoting our brand in EMEA, you can find her exploring Edinburgh’s culinary arts.