Making Ideas Travel, Part 1

In the podcast series, Seth Godin’s Startup School, Seth Godin gave a guided tour to a group of highly-motivated early-stage entrepreneurs on some of the questions they will have to dig deep and ask themselves while they build up their business. Here are my takeaways from various topics discussed in the podcast episodes.

  • Ideas are like riders, and they need a vehicle to get to us. Our ideas can be terrific, but if we cannot connect them to a medium for them to travel, nothing happens. The questions to ask are… Is our idea a good one? Does it hold up strategically? What do we use to connect it and to help it travel?
  • In the book “Positioning,” it says that one way to inject an idea into someone’s head is to find something that is already in someone’s head and hang something right next to it. Many ideas over time have built their structure in people’s heads by connecting to somebody else’s idea.
  • When our idea already has competitors in the same space, we have an opportunity to make a guerilla marketing jujitsu move that gives us a way to throw more weight to get our idea into someone else’s head. The approach is to make clever comparisons that, while our competitors are big and wonderful, we set ourselves apart by providing a list of benefits that our competitors do not.
  • Another approach is never to mention the competitors. That approach can work but will take a lot longer and cost a lot more money. The good news is that we get to build our own thing.
  • When pitching our ideas, we need to be mindful of our audience. We need to do the hard part by spending less time on describing what our idea is and more time on what our advantages are and why they are important. We need to weave together a story that shows our audience how our idea can address the problem and we had thought about the hard part of our idea.
  • For the carrier of the idea, the simpler technology the better. Email is better than a website for carrying and reading the idea. Work on accumulating a list of people who want to hear from you. The problem with the website is that people must remember to go back to it and they usually will not remember. People look at websites and expect that the website must look pretty and beautiful. Another problem with the website is that it is hard to share a website. Properly formed HTML emails do not have any of these problems, and they are easy for people to share with others.
  • In the world full of breaking news, our message will not be another breaking news. Instead, our message should be the important news to someone. We need to shape our messages in a way that the recipients want to share it. Also, numbers by themselves usually do not resonate enough with the people. However, the story of numbers is what people care about. People also want to hear a story that they can build on to brag about to our employees, our co-workers, and our boss. The story is the money spent here and why that money is smarter. People also want to hear about the details, details about our successes or the promise of success.