Innovation within regulation

Innovation within regulation
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Innovating – Make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas or products.

Regulation – A rule, principle, or condition that governs procedure or behaviour.

The new innovation curve is something all marketers have to grapple with, especially those in digital. Increased connectivity, higher broadband speeds and innovation platforms like Kickstarter are fuelling constant shifts in the way everyone does business, causing disruption to all industries.

The external business environment changes daily so we need to innovate, but internal processes can be slow or static in comparison

At the end of the day it’s the job of media and marketing agencies to safeguard their clients’ interests and be that agent of change. Even if a client operates at a slower pace, it’s still your job to shake things up, making sure they stay ahead of the curve. As Richard Branson said, “in order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different".  Are you irreplaceable?

Here are three guiding principles to overcome the barriers to innovation:

1. Trust first, then innovation

Pitching any idea requires trust, especially ideas that are new or unknown.  If your audience doesn’t trust you then forget the rest.

Trust > sales – This extends to all professional relationships really, the higher the levels of trust, the less the need to sell. This is even more pronounced in industries that come under public scrutiny, the client stakeholders are responsible at the end of the day and only a true partnership based on trust will get true innovation over the line.

Trust takes time – As a new employee or agency the first priority should be to settle in and build the relationship. In the pharmaceutical world, for example, there are more than a few legal or governance intricacies to navigate that you won’t be aware of initially. Observe, listen and get to know your environment before challenging the status quo.

2. Pick your battles and your audience

Strategy not tactics – True innovation comes in the form of strategic ideas, not tactics. Think, plan and consider how an idea or tactic will impact the business from all angles. As stated before regulated industries typically have a lot unseen pitfalls, make sure you avoid them. Ensuring your strategy is backed by significant & high quality data is also a must if you want cut through.

Quality over quantity – The modern marketer’s job is not to keep up with trends but rather to spot the right ones. In regulated industry, it’s the opportunities that achieve real change whilst being realistic that get over the line. Consistently pitching unachievable ideas can lead to opinions losing weight quickly.

Key decision makers – Getting a challenging idea approved is a bit like pushing a bill through parliament; the idea is only the start, getting the right people behind it is the real key to success. Make sure any important concepts are presented to the right people and delivered with them in mind; otherwise you might be presenting the same concept numerous times to gain ground. If you have built up enough trust in an organisation, the key decision makers will want to hear your thoughts and make time for you.

3. Patience and perseverance

This is where picking your battles becomes important. Any worthwhile idea in business takes time and effort to get buy in. Make sure your innovation is something you genuinely believe in otherwise everyone involved will lose steam quickly.  If you think back to your best teacher in high-school or lecturer at university, they were always the ones who truly believed in a subject, bringing that extra passion and enthusiasm to something they probably had presented 100 times before.

Most people operating in regulated industry know they’re not immune to change and welcome someone who pushes the envelope with open arms. To be that change agent you need to have trust, pitch realistic ideas and know your environment.

Bowen Spanbroek is a digital performance director at iProspect.

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