With today’s marketers setting aside an average 9% of their total marketing budgets for innovation, it’s clear that innovation plays an important part of brands’ marketing and research strategies. That being said, however, with many businesses tightening and cutting back on their marketing and research budgets following the Great Recession, that 9% has become less and less valuable over the past few years. As brands continue to get used to the “new normal” of today’s recovering economy, they need to be cautious with limited resources while they work to remain relevant. Tighter budgets and fewer employees are forcing innovators to think smarter and make resource-conscious changes that will allow them to accomplish more with less. In today’s ultra competitive environment, failing to move forward with disruptive innovation strategies can be a killer blow to your brand’s long-term success, but thankfully there are some cost-effective solutions to help any brand looking to innovate on a budget.
Adapting to the New Normal
While there’s no denying the importance of innovation when it comes to maintaining long-term success for your brand, tight budgets and the rising cost of human capital have made it hard for brands to dedicate resources to these efforts. In order to maintain the expected level of success (and then some) despite having fewer resources to work with, brands have been forced to drastically change their policies and spending habits, usually focusing on eliminating or revamping inefficient processes from their day-to-day operations and long-term strategy.
By carefully optimizing their use of scarce resources like energy, time, and capital, today’s brands have figured out how to create disruptive growth strategies, while also staying within their limited budgets. Take the story of Andrew Witty and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for example. After taking over as CEO in 2008, Witty was determined to overhaul the pharmaceutical giant’s R&D programs. Before he took charge, GSK primarily focused on high-risk/high-reward big-ticket projects that often cost over $1 billion. Rather than putting all of their eggs in just a few big baskets that were vulnerable to unexpected lawsuits and regulatory crackdowns, however, Witty focused on creating many smaller, more nimble projects that could change direction more easily. In addition to those changes, Witty also transformed the bureaucracy of the company and made significant improvements to the company’s overly rigid R&D culture, trusting his staff with more responsibility. By eliminating big-ticket programs and making GSK a more agile enterprise, Witty was able to accomplish more with less, and help create potential for more new opportunities.
Innovation Solutions on a Budget
Despite the high costs and limited resources that many brands are faced with these days, there are several cost-effective alternatives that can help brands do more innovation with less. In fact, here are 3 strategies that will help any company on a tight budget:
Leverage Outside Experience
If you’re looking to accomplish more with less, a great place to start is by using a third party like SpencerHall. Not only are outside services more cost-friendly than adding more salaries to your overhead, but their knowledge and expertise with today’s modern market research tools can help you uncover in-depth customer insights that can greatly improve your speed to market. The sooner you can get your product in the hands of consumers, the sooner your brand can start profiting from its revenue stream – an invaluable benefit in today’s resource-strained environment. Our team at SpencerHall has well over 200 years of combined experience in the market research field, and our expertise covers a variety of different industries. By leveraging our knowledge of modern research tools as well as our experience in various industries, brands can uncover effective 2.0 solutions that will help them do more with fewer resources. We also like to re-review any prior research that you might have conducted, to possibly provide a new perspective, and also put focus on the knowledge gaps that remain. It’s just another way we can help you do more with the resources you already have.
One of the main reasons why market research can cost so much is because human capital is expensive. It’s fair to say that most adults have pretty busy schedules these days, so finding people willing to give up 2 hours to participate in a traditional focus group is next to impossible, and not cheap either. In fact, face-to-face focus groups typically cost around $6,000 per focus group. However, with online focus groups and tools like our own Transforum® and Sounding Boards, participants can log in from the comfort of their own home whenever they want, share and expand on ideas from other participants located all around the country, and do it all for approximately 30-40% less than what in-person focus groups cost. Not only that, but because participants can log in from anywhere, project teams will be able to improve the speed to market because scheduling considerations and obstacles are eliminated. You can further improve the speed to market by having a clear understanding of the questions you’re trying to answer, and what you want to do with them. Brands can waste a lot of time and money answering irrelevant questions for an uncertain end goal, so make sure you come into the process locked-in and ready to go.
Don’t Let the Urgent Outweigh the Important
One of the biggest obstacles to innovation occurs when day-to-day tasks and challenges drown out and divert resources away from your innovation spending. Identifying the root causes of these distractions and systematically implementing long-term solutions will help you focus on the important innovation strategies that have taken a back seat. A sustainable approach that prioritizes resources and carefully manages new projects will help brands reduce spending on inefficient and ineffective processes.
By leveraging outside sources and focusing your innovation efforts on cost-efficient solutions, brands can make the most of their innovation budget to accomplish more with less. At SpencerHall, we can help by not only providing experienced researchers with extensive backgrounds, but our cost-effective online market research tools help companies tap directly into their target audience to gain detailed insights – not just cursory data. To learn more about how we can help your brand uncover valuable customer information and improve speed to market, read one of our real life success stories by downloading a copy of our Transforum® Case Study.