What to do with an idea

New ideas live and die by our ability to see customers for who they are and meet them.

I say customers but it really could be anyone you’re looking to change. Users, viewers, creators, mechanics, showrunners, your boss. Doesn’t matter.

If you seek to change someone you need to know what they believe. What they think of themselves. How they see the world around them and their place in it.

The best possible way to see a customer is to get as specific as possible, and then start asking questions.

If you’re selling shoes, you need to know the difference between a steel-toe Blundstones buyer and an Oxford Berluti buyer. What do they use the shoes for? How many shoes do they own? Do they think about shoes a lot? Does their partner have a lot of shoes? Do they have a partner?

If you’re looking to change the way people order food, what kind of food? What kind of person orders that type of food? Is it for lunch or dinner?

The questions inevitably lead to more questions because, lets be honest, most people don’t know why they do the things that they do. We’re hypocrites. We want to be a ‘better’ version of ourselves than we (potentially) actually are.

The other key piece of selling a new idea to a customer is…your customer is not alone. Virtually no one makes decisions because they rationally think it through and, through the magic of the internet, is very likely to interact with others about you and your idea.

She might ask for advice, look online, talk to her spouse, talk to her boss, report to the CFO, compare herself against her peers…it seems endless/

If your idea enters into one of those conversations you need to know about it. Otherwise people are talking about you and you have no control.

You miss the opportunity to educate the customers ‘Key Opinion Leaders’ or, simply, people who your customer cares about.

If your customer has to report to the CEO and wants to look like they made a good decision, help them show it was a good decision.

If your customer is a big business with 5+ people you need to go through, guess what? You’ll likely have to think about 10+ and how they may influence your customer.

There’s nothing worse than having an idea that dies on the vine because you didn’t think of the people in your customers life. You didn’t see the decision process they might have to go through to spend money or time or effort on your idea.

If you truly want your idea to grow and change people, start with getting to know those people first.