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A stream of great growth ideas

IdeasNew growth opportunities are the lifeblood of any business, and any business that’s serious about growth, needs to be continually identifying, prioritising and developing those opportunities. To feed that process, you need to be having regular ideas sessions.

An ideas session is a way to share, refine and combine insights and ideas that could become big opportunities. Sessions need to be energetic, open and free flowing, but they also need to have focus and structure. There are two main routes to growth: penetration and innovation, and the sessions work best when they’re focused and structured around one of those two routes.

A market penetration session is focused on how you can sell more of your existing products and services. Simple market analysis will identify potential new customers, and the sales funnel tool will show where you can most easily increase share of existing markets. Get the analysis done up front and use the session to build on the insights, brainstorm other types of customers you could reach, and the different channels and routes to market that could bring new sales.

Brand innovation is about brainstorming potential new offers for your core customers, and finding new and different ways you could provide them. Here are three perspectives you can use to generate ideas:

  1. Customer: Ask your customers what they would like to be able to buy from you, and collate what they’ve asked for in the past. For each type of customer you have ask: if I was in this group, what would I really want? What really hacks me off right now?
  2. Capability: Start with what you’re great at and ask: How could we use that to innovate something that would really wow our customers? (Dyson are amazing with air-flow; they could innovate anything from hand-dryers to hover-boards)
  3. Outsider: Task a group to pretend to be an iconic brand, like Walmart or Amazon and ask: “if you wanted to completely disrupt our market, how would you go about it?”

Both sessions should aim to produce a list of ideas that people can go away and think about. Next week I’ll talk about how you challenge and filter those ideas down to a shorter list of real potential opportunities.

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