It’s new worksheet time!
I love me a good worksheet, don’t you? They can make a complicated process clear or get all your ideas together where you can see them—both of which are particularly important when you’re designing a new message or building a new idea.
That’s why I’ve been noodling on a brand new worksheet, something I’m calling the Buy-In Blueprint, and I’d love your help to make it even better.
What the Buy-In Blueprint does
The Buy-in Blueprint is meant to work not only alongside the Red Thread (and provide an alternate way to get at some of the core elements of that), but also with some of the concepts you’ve seen me talking about recently. In particular, the “surprising secret to stand-out ideas”: combining two familiar and desired components together in a new way.
Depending on what your needs are, I hope the Buy-in Blueprint can help you do a few things:
- If you need a handy reference for the core elements of an existing idea or message, it organizes all the core elements of both in one place. The more you can see the elements all together, the easier it is to make sure they work together.
- If you’re trying to build a new idea or message, it shows you all the elements you must have for it to be successful:
- a problem your audience knows they have (in the form of a question they currently have),
- two key components combined in a new way,
- a core principle connected to each component that supports why that component answers your audience’s question.
Remember, ideas are built, not found, so the stronger your foundation, the stronger the idea.
- If you’re trying to figure out why your message or idea isn’t working as it should, it can help you identify what elements might be missing from the list above, or where concepts aren’t connecting as well as they could.
How to use the Buy-In Blueprint
If you follow the link to the Buy-in Blueprint, you’ll find yourself at a two-page, read-only Google Doc. The first page is the worksheet itself, and the second is a filled-out example. (To get your own writable copy, go to File > Make a copy in the Google Docs menu bar.)
You’ll also notice I’ve added comments on both pages. On the first page, the comments are instructions for how to fill out the worksheet. On the second, the comments are explanations for the answers I’ve put in.
Now that I’ve got you oriented, here’s a quick tour of how to use the worksheet.
STEP 1: What are you building?
Notice that the fields of the worksheet form a house, of sorts. The house is the idea you want people to buy into. It can be a new approach, offer, initiative, product—whatever it is that serves as your answer to a question your ideal audience currently has.
If you already know what your idea is, write it on the “roof” of the house, where I have the X. If you don’t know what your idea is, start with the Qualifying Question in Step 2, then work through the other sections to help you build it.
STEP 2: Why would they come?
Just as every house needs a door so people can get inside, every idea needs a way in—a reason for your ideal audience to engage or act. If you’re already familiar with the Red Thread approach, this is what I call the audience’s Goal. It’s something your audience wants but doesn’t yet have. Importantly, it’s something your idea will give them.
In this worksheet, I’m referring to the audience Goal as the “Qualifying Question.” I’m calling it that because it automatically qualifies your audience into two rather useful groups:
- Those that have that question, and therefore are already bought into hearing a potential answer.
- Those that don’t, and, therefore aren’t the ideal audience for your idea, because getting their buy-in on even why to pay attention would likely take some significant effort (like educating the market, etc.).
Once you’ve defined it, you’re going to write your Qualifying Question on the “door” of the worksheet.
This is key: you want to use the question your audience is most motivated to answer. You want something (that your idea answers) that your audience can’t be neutral about. For example, it’s not that the question, “How can I increase my business’s success?” is a bad one. It’s not. It’s just not that urgent.
Now compare it to, “How can I increase profitability without increasing expenses?” Feel the difference? The more this question captures an urgent issue or a persistent irritant (something your audience has to deal with day in and day out without satisfactory relief), the better.
Warning: Your Qualifying Question is probably neither a “sexy” question to you, nor the glorious “problem you solve” that so much entrepreneurial advice focuses on. Oftentimes those problems are deeper, or less apparent to an end consumer or stakeholder. The issue? If someone doesn’t already know they have that deeper problem, they won’t recognize your idea as being relevant to them, and they won’t pay attention.
You want the question people are Googling answers for right now—the problem they know they have.
STEP 3: What two components of your idea are “load-bearing?”
This is the section of the worksheet that speaks directly to the ideas I talked about in “The Surprising Secret to Stand-Out Ideas” a few weeks ago. Namely, that even the most innovative ideas contain two familiar, desirable elements that have been put together in a new way.
So, to make sure your idea will hold up, here’s where you want to write in the two key components of your idea, without which it wouldn’t exist. Fewer than two elements, and your idea isn’t new. More than two, and you’re complicating both your idea and, eventually, your argument for it—both of which are big ol’ barriers to buy-in.
As I mentioned in my prior post on this topic, remember:
- The components need to be individually attractive to your ideal audience, or at least not repellant! If they’re already bought into the parts, they’re much more likely to buy into the whole.
- The components need to be complementary in combination—similar to the above, the audience doesn’t have to know they love the combination (that’s what the next step is for), but you want to avoid a combination that they instinctively reject as not working together.
STEP 4: What’s the foundation?
Just like a house built on shifting sands won’t stand for long, the same is true for your idea and its load-bearing elements: they have to be built on solid ground—the foundational principles that gave rise to the elements originally.
In this section, then, identify for each component a single concept or principle that explains why that component delivers on your ideal audience’s question. Make sure of two things:
- The principle should be something your ideal audience already agrees with. If it’s somehow a totally new concept (not recommended!), make sure you’re articulating something your audience can at least validate through their own intuition or experience. See the trend here? If they’re already bought into the principles behind your idea, it’s much more likely they’ll buy into the idea itself.
- The principle should be something fundamentally different than some form of, “This component answers the Qualifying Question.” Again it should be why it answers that question, not simply that it does. The why provides evidence the audience can agree with that the component is necessary and valuable.
A quick example on that last bullet may help clarify things further. I was talking with an impact startup client earlier this week in a Red Thread Super Session. Their product is a sugar substitute safe for people with diabetes, and produced in a way that’s safe for the environment. Bonus: it actually has the same taste as sugar (because it is molecularly almost identical) and the same sweetness level, so it doesn’t need to be combined with fillers.
We identified the Qualifying Question as, “What’s the best sugar substitute for people with diabetes?” To help them uncover the underlying principle behind the draft component of “safe,” they started with things like, “It won’t hurt people’s teeth,” and “It doesn’t spike blood sugar.” Do you see how, even though the words and specifics are different, those are still just variants of “Because it’s safe?” In other words, the reasons they were giving for why it was “safe” were essentially, “because it’s safe in these ways.”
We kept digging until one of them said, “well, this is a molecule already produced by the body…” Aha! There it is. Something produced by the body is likely something the body already knows how to process safely. And there we have it: a principle that explains why something is safe, via means that seems like it would help create a new definition of “best”—something so natural it’s in your body already.
Give the worksheet a try! I’d love to see what works well for you with it, and what doesn’t. What questions do you have? How would you improve it? Email me and let me know!Just like a house built on shifting sand won't stand for long, the same is true for your idea and its load bearing elements: they have to be built on solid ground—the foundational principles that gave rise to the elements originally Click To Tweet
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