How to Market an Innovation Program

Let’s assume you are an innovation leader. You want to find the best possible solutions and partners for your organization. You want to make innovation possible step by step, from A to Z.

You invest time, energy, and a significant budget to find the right processes, methods, and tools that will help you.

And after research, exploration calls, demos, you are confident you have found what you were looking for. You got all the approvals, you set up the frame, and you are ready to unleash the creativity ! 

Oops, did you forget anything? Is anyone going to communicate this new plan to the broader company? And I mean… communicate it in a way that engages everyone, not just announcing or sending an email.

What you might have forgotten—like many others before you—is marketing! You might not love it, but you need it. 

The perfect setup with the perfect methods, tools, and stakeholders will fail if you don’t make sure everyone wants it, loves it, and is on board. Or at least the majority…. 

So, here are seven essential steps for you to follow to market your innovation program, regardless of whether you are a marketing guru or not.

1. Understand Your Audience 

As part of almost every marketing strategy, the first step is always to understand your audience. In a large organization, your audience could be a variety of stakeholders from different levels, backgrounds and departments. Each group comes with different interests, communication preferences, and stakes in the innovation program. The best way to ensure acceptance and participation is to speak their language.

Tailor your approach and the content to their needs and interests. Explain to each group “what’s in it” for them and why this new program will benefit everyone – and them specifically.  


2. Define the Objectives of Your Innovation Program

Clarity is essential when promoting your innovation program. You need to define clear, measurable and realistically achievable objectives that align with the broader goals and strategy of the organization. This alignment will help make the program relevant and understandable to all involved parties.  


3. Craft a Compelling Message 

Once objectives are clear, create attractive messaging that resonates with your internal audience. Highlight how the innovation program can benefit both the organization and the employees. Make sure the message is inclusive and motivating. Each stakeholder group may have multiple versions, but ensure they all align and make sense together. 


4. Choose the Right Channels 

Effective communication is about delivering the right message through the right channels. In large organizations, this could range from digital platforms to more traditional formats like town hall meetings. Don’t be afraid to use new channels and really go out of your way to find your audience in their free time when they’re more receptive to receiving messages. 

One of our peers - even though a corporate - launched a TikTok campaign about the KICKBOX program in their organization to reach field employees who are not in front of a computer or present in corporate meetings. It might come as a surprise, but it was by far the most successful campaign generating dozens of ideas coming from the frontline workers of the company.


5. Engage Employees 

Engagement is the heart of internal marketing. Encourage employees to participate in the innovation program by making it accessible and rewarding. Incentives, recognition, and even gamification can be your allies in this effort.

Utilize already active members who are happy about the program and ask them to spread the word to their colleagues. No one can convince them better than “one of their own” who is already excited about innovation. Remember, feedback is a form of engagement too, so ensure you have set up channels for employees to share their ideas and opinions too. 


6. Integrate Cross-Departmental Collaboration 

Innovation often happens at the intersection of different fields and expertise. Complementing each other’s skills and expertise is the way to go for groundbreaking results. Encourage departments to break out of their silos and collaborate. Internal marketing can significantly contribute to facilitating these collaborations.

Highlight the benefits of cross-departmental partnerships through success stories and shared goals. You can even reward successful collaborations and cross-team initiatives.  


7. Measure Success and Optimize

You're probably familiar with the saying, "what gets measured gets managed". The same way you need KPIs for your innovation program, you also need them for your marketing efforts that promote the program. Clear metrics to evaluate the impact of your internal marketing initiatives are essential.

For example you could use participation rate or the number of generated ideas of your innovation program over time. Use these metrics to adapt your communication strategy and keep optimizing your campaigns no matter how successful they are. There is always room for improvement.

In conclusion, designing and executing the right internal marketing strategy for innovation programs is crucial for the success of the program itself. All the above steps will help you create an environment where innovation flourishes and is successful.

It’s important to always have in mind that internal communication should go across all levels. You may not use the same wording for your junior employees as you would for your top management, but you need to address all of them when communicating. 

As a reminder: it’s never late to start! Now is the time to evaluate and revitalize your internal marketing efforts for your innovation program.

Start small if necessary, but start somewhere. Remember, the goal is to create a culture of innovation where every employee feels valued and motivated to contribute. Let’s make innovation not just a word in your company's mission statement, but a reality that drives your organization forward! 


For the best results, a dedicated innovation management platform that can help kickstart innovation is essential. Our flagship KICKBOX program can help you take the first step towards making innovation a reality in your company.

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