Wright, Len Tiu and Narrow, Clive (2001) Improving Marketing Communication & Innovation Strategies in the Small Business Context. Small Business Economics, 16 (2). pp. 113-123. ISSN 0921-898X

This paper is derived from another which was awarded the bestpaper prize at the 9th International Entrepreneurship Conference. Its theme is that while inventions and innovations make significant contributions to the growth and competitiveness of national economies, there are problems in the U.K. surrounding independent inventors (often a small, one person business) and their marketing, where there has been failure to stimulate and exploit inventions compared to other industrialised countries. There are long term implications for economic competitiveness when new ideas are lost. Organisations pursue innovations as an important route in the search for competitive advantage, but this route is fraught with difficulties for independent inventors in getting organisations to accept their products and to market them. This paper reports from and builds on an earlier study from a small business perspective which focuses, firstly, on the importance of capitalising on this source of embryonic talent and secondly, the problems within the marketing communication process between potential adopter marketing organisations and independent inventors. A purposive, non-random sample was drawn, consisting of prominent independent inventors (exemplars of good practice) who marketed both nationally and internationally and the potential adopter manufacturing and marketing organisations (customers). Trade associations with a role in facilitating the adoption process were also contacted. The method of enquiry in the study was by personal and telephone interviews. The findings from these three different groups seem to suggest that stereotypical views of independent inventors held by potential business adopters coupled with the often weak marketing communications and interpersonal skills reportedly possessed by independent inventors present very real barriers to the adoption of new ideas by the business community. The paper concludes that small businesses may be better placed to "exploit" ideas from independent inventors by virtue of their simpler organisational structure. Recommendations for the improvement of strategies to facilitate adoption of inventions with commercial potential are made for both types of small businesses (inventors and small business adopters).

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