Meeting customers’ existing requirements while innovating to address unmet needs is like changing the tyres of a car while driving. Entrepreneurs know this is hard but unavoidable. Disruptors capture massive marketshare quickly when they identify and solve a problem effectively. They retain their lead when they keep innovating to meet evolving needs. But how can one stay ahead of the curve?
The answer is to listen to their stakeholders—what are the investors, customers, employees, partners, key opinion leaders and the larger community saying about you and your industry as well as how their needs and behaviour have changed. This data then needs to be analysed and combined with human intelligence to understand and predict trends and patterns. Once you have that, your innovation is more likely to hit the right mark. And of course, to ensure that you will need to communicate it effectively. We have seen several examples of startups doing exactly that as a response to the pandemic, where innovating while surviving has been a huge challenge.
Here are some quick thought-starters that can help startups navigate and innovate for evolving needs of their customers, partners, and investors.
In an era of social media, listen to all conversations to determine what matters to your stakeholdersthe most. You should not act on everything immediately but keep a track of where the customers’attention is going.
Some topicsor conversations trend for a while but eventually die down. Whilesome topics remain as trigger points that evoke strong reactions when mentioned. Therefore,awareness of social media conversations helps filter durable topics that continue to be important for customers even if they are not actively discussing it. This helps a startup stay connected and relevant for its target audience.
Arm yourself with the right tools
Tools such as social CRM can be invaluable for getting a sense of what customers are thinking to effectively communicate with them through focussed engagements and marketing initiatives.
Build effectivechannels of communication
COVID-19 has made everyone re-evaluate their life choices, desires, and needs. Multiple new channels of communications have overwhelmedbrands to keep up and engage with their audience. Startups should regularly profile their target audience to understand what to say and where to say to be seen by the right time by the right people.
Measure the impact
A continuous impact measurement mechanism is critical if a startup wants to stay ahead. Continuous, because it is not enough to measure only once the innovation has been created and deployed. If you measure during the process, you can course-correct and not lose time and effort if things don’t work out.
With agility and speed of response the hallmarks of startups, this process of listening and then reacting enhances efficiency and at the same time helps the startup come across as responsive and innovative.