I know you don’t want your ideas (or worse, you!) to fail… do you? No. And yet that success can feel crazy elusive. I mean you know your ideas (and you) have value. You know they can help people.
So why don’t they know it, too?
There’s lots of reasons, of course, and I can’t be precisely sure what’s going right or wrong in your situation without talking to you about it. But if you were to come to me about how to make your ideas succeed, here are the three things I always make sure I – and you – know:
- Your outcomes
- Your audience
- Your message
Usually, people know one of the three… kind of. But you have to know all three with crystal clarity. Here’s why:
Your outcomes are what you want your idea to accomplish, both for you and for your audience. (I’m saying “idea” here, but you can substitute “product,” “service,” “book,” “keynote speech,” “proposal,” “pitch,” or really anything that embodies your idea and represents it in the marketplace.)
For you, the outcomes could be things like “get more business,” “enter a new vertical,” “sell coaching,” etc. For your audience, the outcomes could be things like “improve their lives,” “reduce costs,” “help them [do X],” etc.
Basically, the outcomes for you are usually some version of “make the moneys.” For your audience, it’s usually some version of “why they would part with their moneys.” Make sure you have clarity on both, because you can’t pay the bills with altruism.
Your audience are the people you serve. Most of the time those are the people (a) with the moneys that (b) benefit from whatever your idea is. Here, you need clarity on four things:
- Their CATEGORY. This is who they are. Think things like, “small business owners,” “HR managers,” “patients with chronic diseases,” “mid-career women,” etc.
- What they WANT. This is the high-level question they’re asking right now. Not the question you think they’re asking (which is likely what you put down for the outcomes you wanted for them). It’s the one they’re actually asking. These are usually questions that center around how they can make, save, or improve their moneys, their job, their sanity, or their life. “How can we improve productivity?” “What are the best approaches to team building?” “How can I improve my quality of life?” “How can I have a voice at the table?”
- What they VALUE. This is key: it should be something you also value. It doesn’t have to be what’s driving what they want, but it does have to be a value that must be present for them to accept your idea. For example, one of my clients is a premium scientific device manufacturing company. Their audience is “research scientists,” who want to publish the successful results of their work. They must share the value of “credibility” with my client, or else they wouldn’t be willing to pay the premium prices for my client’s products. (They could go with a less expensive option for a particular piece of equipment, but they wouldn’t be able to rely on the results as confidently). These values can vary a lot, but values like “caring for people,” “work/life boundaries,” “self-improvement,” “continuous learning,” might help you get started.
- Finally, you need to know what they STRUGGLE with, in relation to what they WANT and what they VALUE. Sometimes this is a more specific take on their WANT: “What are the specific steps I can take to improve my quality of life while living with this disease?” “How can I build my confidence so I can have a voice at the table?” Sometimes it’s a STRUGGLE that arises from a conflict or tension between the WANT and VALUE: “How can we improve productivity while still caring for our people?”
You can summarize this into a statement that fills in these blanks:
This idea is for [CATEGORY] who [WANT], value [VALUE], but struggle with [STRUGGLE].
Which would end up something like “This idea is for small business owners who want to improve productivity, value caring for their people, but struggle with how to balance the tension between the two.” or “This idea is for mid-career women who want a voice at the table, value continuous learning, but struggle with how to build the confidence they need to get what they want.”
A quick note: I spent 15+ years in non-profits, so I know that sometimes your audience is split – there are the people who benefit from your idea and then there are the people who pay for it. That should sound familiar to the startup folks among you, too. If you’re in fundraising mode, you’re often raising money from people who are separate from your ultimate or ideal customer. But if you need to make the moneys, at least one of your audiences has to HAVE the moneys, full stop.
Also, if you have two audiences like this, you’re going to need two messages… so let’s talk about that.
Your message is what you need to say to your audience to get your outcomes. The minimum viable message for your idea has to make the case to your audience that your idea will help them get what they want. As my friend Jay Baer says, “You have to sell something people want to buy.” Your message needs to draw that connection – the Red Thread® – between their question (which you figured out in your answer to your audience) and your answer (your idea).
And you can’t just say, “it does that, I promise.” As I said, you have to make the case. You have to explain why your idea is the answer… and you have to do it using their wants, their values, and their struggles… and your expertise. So, that’s when you and I would get started crafting the Red Thread® of your message (that’s what the Red Thread® Session is designed to do, too.) But you can get started on your own, too, just grab the Red Thread Worksheet… But trust me, it will be a LOT easier if you’ve clarified your outcomes and audience(s) first.
Outcomes. Audience. Message. Even two isn’t enough. You need all three so you know what you’re working towards, with whom, and the case for how you’ll both and your audience will get there.
So, do you have yours?Outcomes. Audience. Message. You need these if you want your idea to be a successful one. Click To Tweet
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