As I journeyed from Kogi State to Ibadan, something striking happened with two newspaper vendors that reinforced my understanding of the role of simple innovation in winning the constant battle for customer.

A passenger decided to buy a newspaper, and he had N500 note on him. The first vendor that ran to him actually had the change, but he couldn’t sort it out quickly, and the impatient driver zoomed off.

On reaching the second vendor, the passenger inquired if he had the change for five hundred nairas. Amazingly, the vendor had arranged several denominations for all the possible higher notes and had tied them with a rubber band. So he just reached his hand to where the appropriate denomination was and made the sale swiftly.

Two major lessons I learned from the scenario: First, innovation must not be something completely new; it can also be doing the same thing in a new or different way. Secondly, no matter how undifferentiated your market is, with little creative thinking, you can do something extra to go ahead of your competitors at little or no extra cost. It’s about taking time to understand the customer’s problem and think of solving them.

Are you finding it difficult to differentiate your products or services from those of your competitors? Chat me up let’s do some creative thinking together.


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