Well it seems Renée Cormier is under the weather and our brilliant idea of a co-written blog series seems to be sputtering at the starting line. As we get our act together (and Renée gets better) I feel obliged to keep this warm and not lose our enthusiasm — very much like a runner in the city waiting at a red light; it can look silly sometimes but it's very important not to loose the momentum.
While we wait for the light to turn green I thought I would revisit my Guiding Principles and put a little be meat on the bone as they say — and this time I have prioritized them.
Don't pitch a solution looking for a problem
This comes from the simple premise that an idea is really just a solution to a problem, and that it is very important to understand that there is a correlation between the idea, the solution and the problem that it solves for. This is a favourite saying among investors who listen to ideas being pitched to them for a living — and it's always top of mind as to what problem the idea (solution) is solving for.
It's also gets you thinking from a prioritization perspective because not all ideas are created equal (the same with problems for that matter), and you want to focus on the ideas that solve for the biggest problems — that's what people are interested in hearing about.
No one cares about your idea. It is your job to make them care.
Here's the thing, there are a countless number of ideas created each and everyday, and idea generation is something we can do easily without anyone's help (and do) — so it's safe to say there is a glut of them (and of course ours are the best). Don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting that ideas are commodities but rather that because there are so many of them they are perceived as generic until an idea becomes aligned with someone's problem. So there you have it — no one cares, why should they? It's overwhelming.
It now becomes your goal to make them care — and as they say, "This is easier said then done". And this starts scratching at the next three guiding principles, which help to make people care.
It is important you know your audience and what's important to them.
Not all problems are created equal, and beyond that, what may be a problem for one person may not be a problem for another person. In the same vain though, ideas more often than not offer solutions to multiple problems (and the people who have them) — all to various degrees. You need to understand the problem that the person you are aligning your idea with has, and be aware the audience will always be changing with regard to the degree of pain that comes with their problem.
An example - "I have this idea for the greatest humane mouse trap ever"
- Person #1: "I have a problem with mice in my house and I love animals."
- Person #2: "My problem is the price of live mice for my pet snake is just getting too expensive"
- Person #3: "I don't have a mouse problem. My problem is I'm not happy with the return on my investments"
How you present your idea will resonate with each person differently — knowing your audience helps with this.
Complicated gets confusing and people lose interest when it's confusing.
Trust me when I say this is a Truism. I appreciate you live and breathe your idea, it's built off of amazing technology, there are countless white papers and government reports outlining the shift in the market, but all this information has me thinking of lunch — all I want to do is go. I know the devil is in the detail and we will get there, but not in the beginning. This even applies to the people who really like the detail and thrive on complicated.
Less is more
Less is more is not a method to make it less complicated, although it can be a bi-product. The point to be made here is less, if done properly, gives to a more powerful message. It forces the development of language and "delivery of the message" in a way that will resonate more powerfully with your targeted audience.
It's like the exercise when you take 1000 words and boil it down to 250 words without giving up on the message — a painful exercise sometimes but ultimately you end up with language that is "tighter", resonates more powerfully, and ensures your key points are razor sharp. And this becomes the language that finds its way into everything: formal presentations, elevator pitches, videos, blogs, or when you are sitting across the table from someone who has a problem.
So there you go.
I do hope Renée gets better soon — I find her insight invaluable.