**UPDATE: Since sharing this article through our social channels we have seen a great response from fellow marketers and business owners. The ‘nonovators’ have now changed most of the similar copy on their website. Online blogs have also been credited to their original source.
Innovation or Nonovation
It happens time after time. A company or person comes out guns blazing with their big new idea/product/service/way of doing something. This is often met with a lot of initial interest and chat but after a little bit of research you find out it has already been done by someone else, and successfully. This generally leaves them having to scrape the barrel to keep up, like the rest of us. What we are asking here is – when is innovation ‘innovation’ and when is it not – a concept we’ve called ‘nonovation’?
The topic comes to mind most recently with Emirates Team NZ’s glorious defeat of giants Team Oracle USA. Emirates Team NZ displayed all the qualities of innovation by disrupting the way sailing is performed on their boats, whilst staying within the strict rules set by the competition. Thinking outside of the box and acting quickly on the opportunity to add cycles to their boat gave what turned out to be enough time to perfect this ‘new way of doing’. They planned well, they developed a great team culture, they innovated, they practised, and they constantly improved.
Much like many scenarios in the business world as soon as Team Oracle USA got wind of it (excuse the pun) they tried to imitate. However, this lack of true innovation (aka ‘nonovation’) is what led to a half-hearted attempt of imitating Emirates Team NZ and adding just the one cycle to their boat. (and of course eventually removing it!) When innovation is created, earned, and not copied, it truly reaps the benefits, as we have experienced with the cup now being New Zealand’s again.
The same can be said in the business world with numerous examples of the first companies/brands to disrupt the market with innovation also reaping significant benefit.. think AirBnB and Uber. ‘Big brand’ examples aside, nonovation is happening everywhere. In fact, it’s recently happened to us at VOLOM, the now nationwide marketing company. We launched 8 years ago with a unique proposition of providing senior marketing resource to companies who cannot afford a full-time marketer. Backed by a marketing department our VOLOM marketers provide only the level of support that business can afford with a focus on senior level thinking and doing. Many would think that this is not the most ‘innovative’ idea in the world, however, the thinking and development behind it is. Years of crafting our business structure, brand, messages, tools, software, relationships and content so that our customers can easily understand the value we offer have recently come under fire from a little company in the Hawkes Bay called IN Marketing. They’ve recently chosen to ‘nonovate’ by launching our offering. Not only that, they’ve done it using our language and key messages. Check out some of these examples comparing our two websites…..
OH The irony!…
Now while you might think we are worried, we are not. Whilst these examples represent a case of copying online content (which by the way is illegal and a good topic for another article!) we know exactly the time, smarts and effort it takes to be able to offer the value we do to our customers and there is a reason we have crafted those messages over time, because we have successfully proven them. Much like Emirates Team NZ you can’t just jump on the bandwagon and expect the same results, you have to have the vision and the guts to truly innovate and then improve on all the learnings you gain doing it.
As for becoming a victim of ‘nonovation’ ourselves, we are actually quite pleased… because don’t they say imitation is the greatest form of flattery? I suggest Emirates Team New Zealand will feel similarly. Perhaps another way to look at it is to let the market dictate the outcome. I’m pretty sure I know where I’d go if I was a business owner wanting marketing help to help grow my business!
If you want to talk to the true marketing innovators, then get in touch with VOLOM, the nationwide marketing business.