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Pimping Up Your Portfolio - The "Don’t Stop Innovating" Series

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by Startacus Admin

In their first blog post, Think Innovate Change are going to share with you some tips on how you can generate ideas, & apply that creative thinking to extend your business offering...or in other words, how you can pimp up your portfolio.

"Before you even start thinking of ideas for new products and services, remember to be well-rested (easier said than done!), and try to be in a positive frame of mind. You also need to make sure you are open-minded when you are brainstorming. If you are working in a team, you can often find yourself slipping into the habit of analysing whether those ideas will work or not. Whilst that is an important stage to go through, for the moment, just concentrate on producing ideas.

So, how do you come up with an idea? Whilst some of you may be fortunate enough to experience incessant “Eureka!” moments, others may struggle with ideas generation. Wherever you fall on the “ideas person” scale, there are plenty of techniques you can use to create ideas for expanding your portfolio. Here are some of my favourites:

- Lotus Blossom: Whilst this may sound like a challenging Yoga position, it is actually a handy technique to generate lots of ideas. First, write down on a piece of paper, the problem your business is trying to solve. Then, write down 8 solutions to that problem. Next, take each of those 8 solutions, and write 8 additional solutions for each of the original 8 solutions. Before you know it, you have 64 new ideas for possible products and services! If that sounds confusing, don’t despair – here’s one I made earlier, whilst pretending to be a personal fitness instructor.

- Ansoff Matrix:
Although the name of this tool may not seem as exciting as “Lotus Blossom”, it is actually a very useful way to brainstorm ideas for new products and services – and in particular for identifying new sets of customers. The tool simply consists of 4 quadrants. Start off by writing your current offering in the top left-hand quadrant. Then, think of whom else you could offer your products and services to (i.e. to which new markets), and what other products and services you could offer to your existing market or to new markets. The example below is for a children’s book illustrator.

Ansoff MatrixAnsoff Matrix

I didn’t want to bore you with lengthy case studies, so to finish off, I just have two short examples of how Walkers and the AA have developed their portfolios:

1) In 2008, Walkers, as in the crisp company, embraced the concept of “open innovation”, and used their own customers to generate ideas for new crisp flavours, in their “Do Us a Flavour” campaign. They incentivised their customers by offering the winner £50,000 and 1% of future sales of that crisp flavour. Whilst you may not have a similar sized marketing budget to Walkers, using your customers is an effective way to come up with ideas. It is not only great market research, but also helps you understand exactly what your customers want. (And just in case you were wondering which flavour won the competition – it was Emma Rushin’s Builder’s Breakfast)!

2) More recently, you may be aware that the AA (famous for its car breakdown service) now offers boiler services. Referring back to the Ansoff matrix, this is a clear example of product development and diversification – as they have developed a completely new service for their existing customers, and will have undoubtedly acquired new customers at the same time.

If you are successful in coming up with some ideas to revamp, change, or even extend your range of products and services, remember that the next important step is to work out whether those ideas are worth pursuing. In order to analyse your ideas, you will need to weigh up whether the new products and services will be cost-effective whilst producing the impact and income (if any) you aspire to achieve. In other words, don’t pimp up your portfolio for the sake of it! Generate a few ideas first of all, and then decide which ones to turn into reality."

About the contributor...

Clare Griffiths is a Director of Think Innovate Change, a company which enables individuals and organisations to become more innovative by designing and delivering practical innovation management courses, tools and solutions.

Over the next 12 blog posts, Think Innovate Change will share with you some practical tools which come in handy when you are innovating for your business and its growth.

"Throughout the series, our message to you is – once you have generated your initial ideas for your venture, don’t stop there. Continually create new ideas, and think of ways in which you can improve your business. This will help you build a competitive edge, and will hopefully increase your profitability and business performance. In a nutshell, this is what innovation is all about – doing things differently with positive impact for you and your business."

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Published on: 25th August 2012

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