When Innovation Doesn’t Matter

A client of mine came to me very excited about how she had improved her website. She had spent several months and about ten thousand dollars making it “easier to navigate.”

“What good is that?” I asked her.

She looked at me, dumbfounded. “Everyone knows that sites that are easier to navigate are better.”

“I don’t know that,” I said.

Every business is unique. Every customer base has different needs and desires. Having a website that can be navigated quickly might be very important for a business selling commodity-type items — things that customers like to browse through.

But for many information-based businesses, where what is being sold is unique and intangible, speedy navigation is neither desired by the customer nor desirable.

Before you spend time and money on any business “innovation,” ask yourself these three questions:

1. Will this innovation benefit my customer?

2. Will he understand and appreciate that benefit?

3. Will he pay for it?

You don’t need three positive responses to justify investing in innovation. Even if the idea benefits the customer in a way that he can’t appreciate, you may want to do it anyway. Just be sure you understand what you are doing before you do it.