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After the Initial Idea, What Comes Next? Strategy, of Course

Title-Graphic-7My wife was sharing with me the other day a business concept and it got me to thinking about this week’s blog topic: capturing great new ideas and seeing them through from ideation to realization. We’ve all been there, and the process goes something like this:

You’ve just come up with an idea—a really great one. The shower’s off and your scrambling over slippery bathroom tiles to find your smartphone, tablet, a pen or pencil—anything you can use to write it down before you forget it.

If you’re like me, great ideas like this don’t come along every day. And if you’re even more like me, the business of a typical day means that if you don’t capture that idea on paper or in an electronic note or voice message someway, it’s going to be lost to wherever it is forgotten ideas go to live.

BE PREPARED

So the first lesson of this week’s blog is be prepared to capture your ideas. They could come in the middle of the night, while you’re stuck in traffic, in the middle of a staff meeting, while you’re chomping down on a juicy burger at dinner, or in the middle of the aforementioned morning shower.

  • Type your ideas out in an electronic note using your smartphone or tablet.
  • Record a voice memo.
  • Call yourself and leave a voicemail (most voicemail systems these days have a feature that transcribes the message back to you).
  • Write it down the old-fashioned way. (Last I checked, they’re still making pen and paper . . . and pencils too.)
  • If all else fails, tell someone else your idea. This could be your spouse (as was the case with my wife), partner, drinking buddy, friend . . . but maybe not your dog (and if you’re dog talks back, well that’s a whole other issue).

And don’t just capture the gist of your idea. Make sure you capture the essence of it as well—those subtle nuances that make it special.

So now that you’ve captured that idea (and had a moment to towel off and put on the day’s set of clothes)—now what?

GROWING YOUR IDEA

For lots of people, their ideas never get past the germination stage. They think it up, write it down . . . and there it sits until it gets stale and any enthusiasm they had for it or bringing it to fruition just sort of dies away.

For others, they dive right in to the work necessary to create the physical representation of their idea—that book, website, better mousetrap, or whatever “widget” their idea represents. For them, while there’s satisfaction in having created a physical (or virtual) product to demonstrate the idea, far too often it falls by the wayside as well. They’ve brought it to life, but now what?

It’s not enough to just “build” an idea. It’s not like the movie Field of Dreams. If you “build it,” he/she/they won’t necessarily come. What’s most often missing is the STRATEGY necessary to bring the idea to market or to make it a reality. It’s a common shortcoming, and nowhere is this deficiency more prevalent than in the business world.

IDEA + STRATEGY = BETTER ODDS FOR SUCCESS

It’s one thing to have a great idea. It’s quite another to realize it in such a way that compels others to seek it out, buy it, use it, recommend it to others, etc. Building a strategy to support your great idea is the key to bettering your odds for success.

Your strategy is the HOW and WHY you will bring your idea to life, and how you will deliver it and sustain it so that it does not just wither on the vine. Some key points to consider when building your strategy include . . .

  • What is the likely value and impact of your idea to your business? Your customers?
  • Why will people see compelling value in your offering?
  • Who is the very specific target customer who needs the product or service your idea represents?
  • How intense a motivation it is for them to seek a solution to their need?
  • If there is no such desire currently, describe how you might be able to create this demand and how strong it will be (for example, people did not know they desired iPods and iTunes until these ideas came to life in the early 2000s).
  • What solution(s) does your offering provide in direct relation to the needs of your target customers?
  • What will compel people to buy your product or service versus an alternative (and NOT buying/doing nothing is an alternative)? What makes it special? What makes it stand out?
  • Looking at your brand, your stakeholders, and your competitors, what opportunities or challenges might affect your efforts to bring this idea to life?
  • Do you have the in-house expertise to launch and manage this idea? If not, how can you acquire that talent (either new hires or an external resource like Barrel O'Monkeyz)?
  • How will inbound marketing play a role? How will you identify the content you need to attract your target audience and sustain your efforts to communicate this new product or service to the outside world?
  • What platforms will you use to engage your audience (such as a website, blogs, social media, etc.) and how will you maintain these platforms?
  • What other methods will you need to employ to develop the product or service and then connect with your target audience?
  • How will you measure success? How will you know if your idea is working or worthwhile to your business goals?
  • How will you sustain your efforts?

YOU CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN

While you never want to stifle the creativity that brings great ideas to life, ideas without strategies—and without the know-how and will to see them to fruition—are just that . . . they’re ideas. Many good ideas never see the light of day.

What can you do as a business owner or manager to ensure that your great ideas, or the ideas of your team, take hold and blossom?

Check out Barrel O'Monkeyz white papers on a range of topics, from inbound marketing and website development, to digital marketing and design. They’re full of ideas and steps you need to take to turn your ideas into reality.

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