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What’s the Open Secret in Marketing?

Updated: Oct 3, 2023

Pfft, the answer is Open Innovation.

As marketers or marketing enthusiasts, we’ve always learned that consumer insight drives brands to success. The linchpin of success is when communications depend on insights and consumer empathy.

This is why, when we initiate branding, it’s about how the product will resonate with the people and their reaction/acceptance.

Finding the right insight is always a difficult approach. It’s the point that can make or break the firm. We know that the traditional approaches are filled with risk, with that kept in mind, how do we know, how can we believe that the insight is going to elevate the brand?

Traditional approaches rely exclusively on internal domain experts to prioritize, select, and commercialize promising ideas. Now, firms are placing their complete future in the hands of people belonging to just one department.

Digital changes the innovation playing field, the traditional model is a closed perspective that might seem like a relic in the connected age. The locus of control for innovation is outside the firm that opens space to discover paths, leading to unprecedented situations. The collective insight of a large number of individuals is superior because of the diversity and breadth of ideas – the knowledge that people bring to the table is always an added bonus. These people have different perspectives that add to the ‘data mining’ process.

A distinct orange puzzle piece away from blue pieces. Text in orange emphasises open innovation’s global creativity for solving challenges.

So, why are marketers not using Open Innovation?

As marketers, we are the experts. If Henry Ford asked people, a century ago, “What do you need?” They would have said, “Faster horses”. As experts, we carry forward the market research. We look at the niche, the needs of the firm and clients; understand the targeted customer base, and work on building an effective bridge.

We have to be wary about intellectual property as well. Apple and so many other brands are obsessed with corporate secrecy (as they should be!). Brands have grown in a world where R&D is conducted behind closed doors. If consumers were to know - secrets would be thrown out in the open, and competitive advantage would be lost.

How can we forget about the phrase, “It has always been done this way”? Large Organizations are repulsive towards change. Open Innovation calls for collaboration, and that would present many difficulties, in terms of obligations, culture, etc. People need to frame a process, be well-versed with it, and welcome it with open arms.

Graphic: orange bulb surpasses blue bulbs. The text in blue says, “Effective open innovation requires ideas that can be turned into products.”

This is where technological innovation steps into the picture. Combining Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing will result in successful results in technological innovative projects. This would pave the way towards a frictionless way for technology professionals and companies to work in harmony. Teams are bound to receive solutions to a challenge and progress through convergent processes. It’s all about seizing the opportunities that come with technological innovation and make that a competitive advantage. Crowdsourcing is more than using achieving goals, it’s having multiple chances to achieve the goal.

An arrow emerging from a magnifying glass. Text in orange emphasises that crowdsourcing brings unique perspectives for extreme value.

Here’s a message to our fellow marketers – nothing new here. We have always had access to sensitive information, and open innovation can fit in with the standard practices e all follow to protect our clients’ Intellectual Property.

Culture change is often the undoing of any promising technological innovations. Change is hard, yes, but it is important to recognize that crowdsourcing is a bonus, a benefit. It provides a different perspective to approach challenges. External Threats, Internal Weaknesses, PESTEL challenges can be solved through Open Innovation.

The role of the marketer follows this process:

Anonymous human icons with text “Problem owner -> solution curator -> implementer.”

Marketers are responsible for decontextualizing the challenge, expediting the process, curating many solutions, and implementing ideas to reality.

Let’s understand Open Innovation with a couple of examples:

1. Nike wouldn’t have been able to resonate with its consumers or motivate them to buy Nike Shoes – if it weren’t for the Colin Kaepernick campaign. A campaign that moved people, and they were not afraid to take a stand!

2. Pepsi’s brand managers did not anticipate the Kendall Jenner ad would miss the mark or trivialize the Black Lives Matter movement.

Pepsi, Nike, and many other leading brands have implemented Open Innovation. They utilize a wide array of tools for insights – focus groups, data, employee suggestions, etc – achieving sustainable breakthrough is implementing it at the right time.


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