Picture balancing a tightrope between tradition and the unknown. One misstep and you fall, yet staying still means stagnation. That’s what it feels like trying to meet customers’ existing requirements while innovating to address unmet needs. It’s a hard but unavoidable aspect of any entrepreneurial venture. Disruptors retain their lead when they keep innovating to meet evolving needs. But staying ahead of the curve doesn’t come easy.
Innovation starts with listening. You need to know what your stakeholders, from investors and customers to employees, partners, and influencers, are saying about you, your industry, and how have their needs and behaviours shifted? Analyse this data, but don’t neglect the human touch. Combine it with your understanding of trends and patterns to predict where the future lies. This should not be a passive activity. The Indian startup landscape is densely packed now. They are facing the uphill battle of innovating while simply surviving, yet many thrive just by actively listening and adapting. Remember, innovation isn’t just about fancy ideas; it’s about understanding the present and shaping the future, hand-in-hand with your stakeholders.
Here are some quick thought-starters that can help you navigate and innovate for evolving needs of your customers, partners, and investors.
In an era of social media, listen to all conversations to determine what matters to your stakeholders the most. You should not act on everything immediately but keep a track of where the customers’ attention is going.
Some topics or conversations trend for a while but eventually die down. While some 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 effective channels of communication
The impact of COVID-19 has prompted a reassessment of life choices, desires, and needs. With the emergence of new communication channels, brands are challenged to effectively engage their audience. Startups should consistently analyze their target demographic to determine the most appropriate messaging and platforms for optimal visibility among their intended audience.
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.