One of the ‘hot topics’ CMOs tell us they want to spend more time and thought on is innovaitons.  Rightly so, given that it is a sweet spot for top executives – 93% cite innovation as a top priority.

Unfortunately, innovation has the traits of a great buzz word.  Everyone wants it, but what does it actually mean for a CMO?  At a recent team meeting we debated the definition of innovation for marketing leaders and ended up with a few interesting directions…and no consensus.  

Could marketing innovation mean testing new media like mobile and social; building direct-to-consumer distribution; getting and involving customers or defining new products or even new product and service couplings?  Sure, all those and then some.  I think part of the challenge – and the fun – is that there are so many possibilities. Innovation and marketing are a good mix.

Seems like a great place for research. 

I’m working on a framework to help CMOs tie experimentation together into a marketing innovation strategy.  Central to this strategy will be posing a vision of how their company will interact with and relate to customers in the future.  The framework will help them explore the many different options and assemble a roadmap to begin planning how their organization should test and evolve to get to their future vision. 

If this topic interests you, and you’d like to contribute, please ping me.  I’m in the early stages and welcome insights, stories and debate.  If there are related questions you’re working through, send them along too.

So to my conundrum:  I’d like to set a relevant definition for innovation before going much further.  There are, as you would suspect, plenty of choices.  I’m tossing around two.  This first one feels closer to our jobs as marketers.  In particular, I like the call out to customers :  Innovation is creating new value for the both the customer and the company.  The second is broader, with a nice nod to the balance of creative and commercial:  Innovation is the transformation of ideas to value. 

Which of these describe the potential of marketing innovation?  Or do you have another idea entirely?   New possibilities welcome.