What is innovation in B2B? And how do we at Earnest help our clients innovate every day?

On the 6th March, Rishi Sunak proudly tweeted ‘Innovation means growth’ with an image of a QR code.

“If this is innovation, then the UK is screwed” was one of just thousands of critical responses.
They were right, of course. Creating a QR code with an AR animation (though both useful technologies in their own right) doesn’t make you innovative.
But instead of joining the pile on, let’s instead use it as a prompt. If this isn’t innovation, then what is it?

It might sound like a simple question, but for us and our clients, it’s an important one to pin down. A quick Google will show you B2B marketing innovation is a confused and underserved space – but if marketing teams can get it right, it’s another advantage to get ahead of the competition.

So, to put our stake in the ground once and for all, here’s how we define, view and implement innovation at Earnest Labs – and in turn how we work as a resource to help our clients, and the agency.

“Innovation is the discovery and engineering of new ways of doing things in order to create business value”

This definition gives our efforts around innovation two key focuses for ourselves and for our clients:

  1. Discovery: Finding new trends, technologies and channels that could be used to add value to marketing or the wider business.
  2. Engineering: Creating and producing new ideas, products and marketing activations that have never been tried or tested before.

So, what does that look like in practice?

Discovery (seeing):

  • When it comes to discovery, our job at Earnest Labs is to help our clients get their heads out of the day-to-day and look forward to ‘what’s next?’
  • We create Labs Quarterly Reports which summarise the most exciting and fruitful trends that are happening in the industry and wider world that our clients should be jumping on.
  • We digest, analyse and write about new technologies, channels and topics through our B2B Innovation Blog in order to make them simple to understand, and clear how to implement.

We run bi-annual ‘Where next?’ sessions for clients where we delve in B2B audience trends, marketing and activation trends, inspiration and relevant news and what all of that could mean for their marketing programmes for the next 6-12 months

Engineering (doing):

When it comes to engineering, our job is to put ideas into action – and to help clients innovate in the real world.

  • We run Innovation Idea Sprints for clients where we debate and co-create experiments to run within marketing programmes to help make innovation a reality.
  • We make sure that we continue to innovate ourselves through ‘Earnest Ventures’ – creating and launching new products and services for Earnest (including the ever growing Tap for Change)
  • And we have an innovation budgeting model, called The Earnest 10%, where we help clients wisely invest a portion of their marketing budget into innovation in a measurable way.

This mix of Discovery and Engineering keeps us focused when it comes to innovation for our clients – and means we can turn insights into action.

So, where has it worked?

  • Our deep dive into Storytelling in chat apps led to us creating this for Centrica.
  • One particularly good Idea sprint led to an idea of how to help farmers stop having their sheep rustled using the latest 5G technology
  • Our experience in creating two products has enabled us to learn how to build and launch ‘startups’ to the world
  • Our trends reports have led to a series of new ideas which have been put in front of clients (if you would like to see any, hit the DMs)


(Header photo: Diego PH on Unsplash)

Earnest Labs is a resource available to every client at Earnest from the day we become partners. If you are on the lookout for a new agency that will help you push the boundaries and explore the new, please get in touch.
However, if you want to discuss anything B2B innovation related please do email me at james.wood@earnest-agency.com.


(Header photo: Diego PH on Unsplash)