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Using Your Website as an Innovation Platform

Innovate or die.

OK, it’s not always as severe as that, but sometimes innovation truly changes an entire industry and means wealth for one company and bankruptcy for another.

Think about how NetFlix outmaneuvered Blockbuster. Or how Google outmaneuvered Yahoo!. Or how Apple with its iTunes store outmaneuvered Tower Records, Virgin and the entire music industry.

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The problem is that companies become fossilized in the way they do things. Certain assumptions become seen as a necessary part of the process. Infrastructure gets built around a specific way of doing things. So, how can you innovate, transform the way you do business, and ensure that your company will thrive for years to come? The answer is:

Leverage your website as an Innovation Platform.

As a small business owner, you have many advantages. You can be nimble. You can be creative. You can test new products, services and solutions without the need for approval from 17 stakeholders. Capitalize on your opportunities by making CHANGE a core part of your business. And leverage your website as the ultimate in flexible innovation solutions.

To that end, here are 5 ways to use your website as an Innovation Platform to propel your business to the next level and to leave your competition in the dust:

1. Empower Customers

Try turning an industry on its head by empowering customers to create their own products. Threadless.com and Zazzle.com are great examples of this.

2. Automate

Try turning a manual, time-consuming process into an automated solution, like BizFilings has done with business incorporation and LLC creation.

3. Become the Thought Leader

Prove to the world that they should look to you for ideas and insights. A great example of this is The Concrete Network. That’s right — CONCRETE. You can become a thought leader in literally ANY field.

4. Offer Something New

The web offers you endless possibilities. Look at Facebook and Twitter, and how quickly they changed online communications. LEGO transformed its sluggish business and its website by building a Star Wars universe to cater to any 10 year-old’s fantasies.

5. Support a Cause

Kiva found a way to make online micro-lending to small businesses in impoverished areas viable. How can you transform your website to rally around a cause and make a huge difference in the world?

These are just a few suggestions to help you leverage your website to fuel your business growth. If you need additional help, let me know below. Thanks!

Tom Shapiro
About the Author: Tom Shapiro

Tom Shapiro is CEO of Digital Marketing NOW, a strategy, design and marketing agency that fuels clients' business results. DigitalMarketingNOW.com Twitter: @DigitalMN

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