I attended Abrigo’s ThinkBIG Conference last week, and it truly was a great event: The Abrigo Team did a fantastic job with everything – the agenda, location, interactions, and experiences. Attendees were deeply engaged, and there were multiple opportunities to connect and share ideas. It was a tremendous opportunity. A BIG thanks to Abrigo for their hospitality and efforts last week in Miami!

As I reflect on this conference, it got me “thinking BIG” about how everything you do in sales, marketing, and business comes back to the customer experience. There was so much emphasis across the board on making sure your solutions and your interactions are all customer-centric and focused on differentiation.

Innovation on the edge of expectation

By its most basic definition, “innovation” is the process of taking something that exists and making it better. It requires creativity and a penchant for risk-taking, and it can involve repairing, adjusting, or working with something in an unskilled or experimental manner.

The opening keynote by author Jason Kotecki stressed that in order to innovate, you need to set an expectation to innovate. Be a rule breaker. Push yourself to think outside the box in your interactions, offerings, and expectations, and determine how you can drive more value. Allow yourself the possibility that someone could surprise you today – or that you could surprise them.

If you plan to foster success with innovation, you must take calculated risks and trust the process. Even though it may be more work in the short term, making innovation a part of your culture, strategy, and expectations can pay dividends in the long run.

‘Best’ practices… or ‘better’ practices?

“Best practices” is something we hear daily in this line of work, and in any line of work really. It’s thrown around by everyone as a standard to follow. But what does “best” actually mean?

Something interesting brought up at the conference was this idea to implement “better” practices instead: What is one thing I could do to make this a little bit better? What value could I add to my conversations or business relationships? Best practices imply that there is nothing else to improve, whereas implementing better practices indicates that you’re always looking for ways to improve upon what you have – embracing that innovative mindset, if you will.

It also shows that your attention, empathy, input, and insights are centered on addressing the customer’s evolving needs and not merely serving your own – and that is a great way to build trust with your customers.

Growth requires brand differentiation

I met a nice fellow from Idaho who was wearing a shirt with cattle on it… as well as palm trees and the American flag (his shirt screamed, “Home-on-the-Range meets God-Bless-America”!). When asked about it midway through the conversation, he shared a little about himself and we all listened. And – what do you know – he is a cattle farmer, he loves America, and he likes vacationing and travel!

It was something so simple yet so profound, and it grabbed my attention immediately: He managed to reveal his personal brand without a single word. As things get tighter in the economy, businesses get more particular and strategic about who they work with and grow with. Making an effort to brand yourself before a customer conversation even happens could not only serve as a great conversation starter, but also a method of differentiation. And remember, every good brand puts the focus on the customer and their values. Better brands spark better growth!

Innovation and Industry Intelligence

As I’ve mentioned, this conference was extremely valuable – and its insights really reinforced the messaging and customer-centric brand we’ve built here at Vertical IQ. Our Industry Intelligence lends you the ability to stay current, stay future-minded, and become a strategic advisor by giving insights that add value. With the latest industry trends, risks, news, and more, you can cater and customize solutions to meet the needs of your customers – which truly matters to them and can help grow your business.

After all, our company’s focus is on “knocking our customers’ socks off” – and we continue finding ways to innovate by providing the most actionable, convenient, and focused insights that will help you drive growth and build trust with your customers!

>> Learn more about how Industry Intelligence can bolster your drive to innovate

Image credit: Paul Hock, Vertical IQ

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