In a recent post, we discussed the overall importance of innovation and imagination in the spa industry. This week, we are further exploring this topic by discussing a couple of articles published by Mark Pollard, a professional strategist and VP of the Brooklyn based agency Brand Strategy, on this subject.
From the negative effects provoked by different business cultures to the development of a solid strategy based on innovation and creative thinking, the following lines provide useful insights for spas and wellness centres willing to build a better future for their businesses.
Business Cultures That Kill Innovation
Today, we have a proliferation of business cultures defined by rigid hierarchies where people tend to lose track of the ideas that are supposed to define their companies. This is why, according to Mark Pollard, very often “people can’t explain in plain English and in a sentence why the product is better than what else is on the market”.
Pollard blames this incapacity on the way different business cultures discourage innovative and creative ways of thinking. For instance, there is a monopoly of ideas where only some people can make a contribution to the creative process. This is particularly evident in companies with an overly-institutionalised behaviour.
Likewise, several business cultures encourage innovation only through the technical aspects of it. As stated by Pollard, several companies treat innovation as something to execute “‘because we can’ rather than ‘because people have a problem that we can solve’”. To make things worse, different business cultures tend to copy the impersonal language of their competitors to promote their products and services.
Identify Your Customer and Set Your Business Apart
In order to build a solid strategy for your business, it is crucial to identify from the very beginning the type of client you are serving, and the uniqueness of the products and/or services your business is providing the market with.
Throughout his extensive career, Mark Pollard has developed a model aimed at defining these two elements. This model works around three words: ‘for’ (who you want your customers to be), ‘only’ (what you do that is different), and ‘because’ (the explanation that may persuade someone to believe in the unique value of your product and/or service).
Once your business has been able to reach some sort of clarity about these words, you are in a good position to bring in some “research and a bit of lateral thinking” to enhance the whole strategic process. This is also the perfect time to embrace creativity and innovation.
In a different blog post, Mark Pollard shared a successful case that exemplifies the power of planning and creative thinking, something that allowed him and his creative team to sell 4.2 million hamburgers on behalf of McDonald’s. Although the spa industry is probably somewhere in the opposite side from a company like McDonald’s, the case shared by Pollard provides very useful tips and insights.
In the McDonalds case, the creative team was confronted with the challenge to name the next hamburger, and a very simple question: “How do we get people to feel good about eating beef at McDonald’s?” Instead of coming up with the next promotional campaign, the team went beyond its first goal focusing on client’s un-involvement, an issue that was affecting the company’s sales.
After a lot of thinking, the team came up with a strategic solution: Invite people to name it. Thanks to this strategy, people were actively involved and McDonald’s sales rose to levels that transformed this campaign into one of the most successful ones in the history of the company.
The planning process involved exhaustive interrogation of the problem, and a significant collaboration between different actors including the creative team, customers and all planning disciplines in the whole process. Collaborative thinking ended up playing a huge role in the whole process.
Building Success through Innovation
There are many things the spa industry can learn from the McDonald’s experience. The bottom line here relies on embracing innovation, creativity and customer engagement as the required pillars to support the initial strategy and ongoing campaigns that spas and wellness centres are planning to build towards the future.
The insights provided by Mark Pollard in his blog are relevant for the spa industry. In order to be successful, spas and wellness centres must be able to define and engage their customers and set apart their services. If they are able to add research, innovation, creativity and collaborative thinking into the process, they will be in a good position to take advantage of the broad range of opportunities provided by today’s changing market. It’s up to us.