Innovation is key to growth... I still love the old Specialized Bikes mantra - Innovate or Die. To me, this set the tone and the purpose of that company. Nothing will stand in their way!
But where and how? Recently, I've gone through a string of innovation-experiments. And the one thing I've taken away from my experiences? Innovation is key, but the one place to focus on is the customer buying experience.
I've often thought of the bicycles I've purchased in my life... From 3" race machines like my old Cannondale Scalpels to the love of my life and 8" of happiness contained in my Specialized Demo 8! They were all really rad bikes, but non stood out on the sales side. The purchasing was all the same - credit card, one-time fee.
How did the competition stand out? They didn't... Not even the brand I went with stood out. So what if someone innovated on the business model? What if they made it use-per-mile or something crazy like number of tire inflates? Or a bike company based solely on a service model? My point, differentiation can come almost exclusively in how you sell, and not what you sell.
Google Adwords changed the way marketers bought advertising! They added in "clicks". I could meter my approach based on my budget and success of the campaign. A total pay-for-performance marketing program. The risk was shared - brilliant! Their growth, explosive. Now everyone is copying what Google did. So does innovation have to be all business model, no! But that's where I look first!