Few people have tapped into the online zeitgeist more than Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. Bezos is man who took a risk in the early days of the Internet and turned a trickle of book sales into a fast-flowing river that dominates global ecommerce.

One of his most accomplished (and seemingly unlikely) successes is his triumphant turnaround of The Washington Post, a newspaper that he acquired in 2013.

While many have accused Bezos of buying a vanity project in The Washington Post, his investment in the newspaper has paid off.

Following a $50 million investment by Bezos, The Washington Post is now a profitable and growing business. Traffic to the newspaper’s website has increased by nearly 50%, digital subscriptions have doubled and advertising revenues have increased by an amazing 40%.

In a memo to staff, WP publisher Fred Ryan praised Bezos for encouraging everyone in the business to invest in “positive surprises.”.

This encouragement has enabled editorial, sales and technical teams to invest time and effort into creating new editorial and commercial platforms and building innovative distribution systems.

While some of these projects involve considerable resources, others simply require a little change of focus. Current initiatives at The Washington Post include improving email newsletters and developing podcasts.

Little tweaks and marginal gains can have a significant impact when applied across an entire organisation. In an industry that many pundits believe is in decline, Bezos’ investment in constant product development and testing is yielding incredibly positive results.

How Can Your Business Invest in Positive Surprises?

I’m a great believer in the fact that the most dangerous thing you can say in business is “We’ve always done it this way.”

The Internet enables us to test new business strategies and models with very little upfront investment. Products and services can be launched, tested and refined on the back of a blog post, an email marketing campaign and a few social media posts. Some will work straightaway, some will need some refinement before being taken back to market and others will fall flat on their faces, but if you don’t try new things, you risk losing your edge in a business environment that change with the weather.

So I’m throwing down the gauntlet in 2017: Try something new and see where it takes you.

How will your business invest in positive surprises in 2017? Share your comments below:

This post first appeared on the iContact Email Marketing Blog.

Image: Esther Vargas