This article originally appeared in Upstream, Rockfish’s newsletter that shares our insights and points of view across technology, marketing and strategy; our take on current trends; and a look ahead to what’s on the horizon for marketers. You can sign up for the next issue at http://goo.gl/wcc7LI
Smart businesses thrive on the right amount of chaos – in the form of disruptive innovation. At Rockfish, we embrace innovation – and the disruption and chaos it brings. Why? Because innovation drives progress. And growth.
That spirit of entrepreneurship runs deep in our organization. It’s how we approach every project, and why we call ourselves a digital innovation partner (not just another digital agency). We don’t want to just create work. We want to help our clients redefine industries, change models, find explosive growth and create partnerships.
I believe every marketer should be finding ways to drive innovation both from inside their own organization and by partnering with outside agencies and startups who can partner with them to push these goals forward. As an enabler of disruptive innovation, Rockfish partners with startups to deliver best-in-class thinking and the technology and mobile innovation that drives our clients’ brands forward. We innovate both externally and internally by:
- Partnering with and mentoring innovative startups
- Driving innovation within our organization with a startup process model
Rockfish also has deep ties to the startup world in each of our markets. Take Cincinnati, for example, where Rockfish is one of the partner agencies that guide startup companies through the development and growth process at The Brandery during its four-month program annually. The Brandery is a nationally recognized startup accelerator and the first to focus on applying the principles of brand marketing to startups. (Myself and Rockfish colleague Bryan Radtke, VP, Client Services, are both co-founders.)
Specifically, Rockfish experts provide strategic branding mentorship and design guidance to help startups focus their brand, find their message(s) and make true connections with their target audience(s).
Collaborating to innovate
Rockfish also thrives on introducing our clients to smart startups that may help them meet a business or industry challenge. One example of this is our participation in Brand Fusion, an innovative gathering that introduces top-level brand managers to startup founders, for collaboration and networking. In a fast and efficient round-robin format, brand managers get to meet 8 to 10 startup leaders that could help them solve digital marketing challenges. It’s both inspiring and practical for all parties involved.
Innovating from within
We talk the talk, but we also walk the walk by baking innovation into our operational model and our hiring practices. Our internal innovation starts with a workforce that thrives on it. If you can’t bring new ideas to the table, you won’t be a good fit at Rockfish.
Each new hire brings an entrepreneurial spirit to work every day. Our core value of collaboration plays out into our hiring must-haves: Smart people who are innovative, driven and versatile.
In early 2013, we hosted our first-ever Rockfish Hackathon. The inaugural event pitted cross-functional teams of Rockfish employees against each other with a deadline for rapid innovation – and an accompanying lack of sleep. Over two days, nearly 75 employees formed 10 teams and dove in to develop working demonstrations of groundbreaking digital ideas, based on ideas they had developed leading up to the competition. The all-nighter took lots of coffee and tons of teamwork. The results blew us away. Browse the projects and see for yourself.
Our internal startup incubator, Rockfish Labs, has generated some amazing products and services that we have spun out to deliver innovation to clients. They include:
- YouEarnedIt, an employee rewards program that encourages teamwork and peer encouragement.
- Media Multiplyer, a platform that provides rich-media technology to optimize digital ads across channels and devices via self-contained and sharable ad units.
- Sygnl, a social-local-mobile diagnostic tool that provides a holistic picture of your current so-lo-mo efforts
A continual learning model
Generating innovation around here also means investing in our communities, to fuel the next generation of disruptive innovators. Rockfish employees are also involved in groups including:
- The Ark Challenge in northwest Arkansas, a mentorship-driven business accelerator program for technology startups. [http://arkchallenge.org]
- Hosting Meetup groups to share Android development skills
- Volunteering for local schools to help develop mobile apps
The Rockfish point of view is that by innovating from within, we can keep our clients and partners at the cutting edge of technology, digital marketing and communications.
The next issue of Upstream from Rockfish will be released soon so sign-up to receive it in your inbox at http://goo.gl/wcc7LI