Business

Being innovative in 2019

29th January 2019

For me, 2019 is about innovation and reinventing the way we do things. In times of uncertainty, I think two things happen. We become cautious and go into protection mode, we focus on our family and of course protecting our wealth. But being cautious is quite hard work, so we’re also on the lookout for what’s new and exciting, not just any old new, but what’s truly innovative and engaging. So there are two extremes, a natural state of caution, but also this eye on the horizon looking for what’s new.

Brands need to work hard to attract our attention, and there’s no point in just repeating what you do year on year, not in this new age. I feel that social media is losing its edge, it’s not just about posting images anymore, no, what are you doing in the real world that is truly engaging. That’s what people want to see now.

One of my favourite examples of this is the Holi festival hosted by fashion brand Saloni. They don’t have stores, instead, they have redirected that ‘rent’ budget into creating experiences that connect them to their clients in a personal and meaningful way. Of course, all this activity is designed to be perfectly Instagrammable, but they’re leading with building personal relationships and that is the key here.

“Saloni has never done a runway show; instead, she’ll fill a showroom with her own antique furniture to host market appointments, or she’ll arrange a festive lunch in the middle of Fashion Week. In March, she invited 130 editors, influencers, models, and fashion friends to Udaipur, India, for a weekend of events.“

Think about how Trinny Woodall launched her makeup brand last year. She used Instagram Stories and Facebook Live to speak to her social media audience – every day! Personally answering their questions and connecting with them EVERY DAY! Trinny makes content that counts and people follow her for this incredible insight and access to beauty and wellness experts. She even branded a London Taxi in bright yellow Trinny London branding and created a very simply edited show where she interviewed top experts, thus growing her audience and reach. By the way, the direct costs of being Live on Instagram and Facebook every day is £0. Yes, the taxi branding was a direct cost, but they have kept editing costs right down by making it very simple. You can’t use costs as an excuse, there are ways to be innovative that are very affordable.

I look at the way that interior designers and interior design brands have been marketing themselves over the last few years, press, trade shows, sales teams, social media etc. There’s a repetitive rhythm and as long as you have developed new products and completed new projects you can feed the marketing machines that generate publicity.

But what if your clients have become bored with your approach? What if they wanted something new and truly exciting? What if you actually wanted to move your client from the point of sitting back and watching your marketing show to actually stopping and engaging with you? What would that mean to your business if your clients actually took notice of you and decided to have a conversation and more importantly be interested in you?

I’ve always put myself out ahead and I’m often the first to adopt new technologies and approaches to what we do every day. And this year I’ve gone back to the drawing board. I’ve been asking my team, myself, my clients and others what they think is ‘new’. None of us has definite answers, and therein lies my opportunity.

You might have noticed that we are now offering VIP luxury design tours which I’m so excited about for a few reasons, it brings what we’ve been doing for years to life, people can engage with us in the real world and actually be part of what we do, side by side with me, not watching from afar.  Digital is still very important but it’s those intimate real-world experiences that matter more at the moment. We have a few more plans up our sleeve for this year, and I’m not going to give it all away, but it’s about connecting our brand to people in a way that’s meaningful and adds value.

So I leave you with this question, how does your brand connect with people in a meaningful way? And I’m not going to let you answer that question by saying through magazines or social media – no, how do you connect in real time with your people?

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