Apple $1 Trillion Mark Teaches Us A Good Lesson About Innovation and Marketing
A few days ago Apple made headlines by becoming the first publicly traded American company to be worth more than $1 trillion. But a recent article in the New York Times reminds us that not too long ago, Apple was on the ropes. In the early 1990s, Apple shifted from being on the brink of bankruptcy to becoming one of the most innovative companies on the planet by introducing a number of hit products and owning entirely new product categories (iPhone).
Apple’s marketing has always been innovative. However, the company’s rise to dominance shows the important interrelationship between marketing and innovation. So many times companies view marketing as separate from innovation. The role of marketing is not simply promoting awareness, demand and sales for a product or service. Marketing has a role at every stage of the innovation cycle – product development, customer segmentation, customer journey analysis, customer experience design…the list goes on.
I have spent many years working with innovative companies in technology and healthcare, both B2B and B2C. The companies that maintained their edge figured out how to adapt to market conditions by infusing marketing into creative innovation models. In the article “Product Innovation or Marketing Strategy: What Comes First”, many different models of innovation are explored. For high-growth companies in very competitive markets, I love the three-tiered team approach where marketing is integrated at every stage:
- The Core Business: Creating innovative approaches to drive demand with existing products to existing customer segments;
- The Growth Business: Focusing on driving demand with new products and services to new segments over the next 3-5 years;
- The Breakthrough Business: Determining the long-range outlook for your industry, not being afraid to develop products and services that might eventually disrupt your core business.
Regardless of the approach to innovation, the key is to prevent marketing from being siloed into the traditional disciplines of brand, PR, online marketing, social media, etc. Marketing is not only your growth engines, but your innovation engine as well.