Monday, August 24, 2009

What, Specifically is Your Idea?

One of the more frustrating aspects of most pitches I see is vagueness. Mark Cuban did a fantastic job of breaking down a hilariously vague pitch in his blog recently.

I see vague pitches most often from volunteer groups (including not-for-profits and amateur sport organizations). These pitches can generally be summed up as “we will do stuff and it will be wonderful.” Occasionally a target group that might benefit from said wonderful program will be tossed in to make a pitch less vague.

This isn’t to say that these pitches aren’t created by intelligent individuals who may achieve some degree of success with a program; however, by leaving specifics out of their pitches they fail to maximize the potential for success (or as Seth Godin said, minimize potential for blame if that program fails).

Some of you reading may disagree with this post so far, if so I hope you’ll be public with your disagreement by commenting, as you had success getting a “yes” to vague pitches. Vague pitches may work; however, by adding specifics to your pitch you accomplish two things.

1. More individuals will pay attention so you increase the potential target pool for your pitch

2. Individuals who aren’t committed to your idea will lose interest

Seems counter-intuitive, no? Think of it this way. At this point in our careers, all of us have worked in a group. Group theory says that in a majority of groups a small part of a group will take on more than their fair share of work, most of a group will do their fair share of work and another small part will be “free riders” who do little to no work. Number “2” seriously reduces the potential for free riders.

Out of the theoretical and into the practical...

· Initial idea – “to increase moral, we will create an employee blog”; interesting, but

o how will an employee blog increase moral

o by how much do we want to increase moral

o who will create the employee blog

o who will monitor and publish the blog

o what content will be published on the blog

At first blush the initial idea is great; however, without answers to the above questions (and several more I’m sure you can come up with) the idea lacks substance and is destined to collapse.

Don’t walk away from this post thinking that your ideas must fill a 3 inch binder or 120 PowerPoint slides to be effective. At the 2008 TechCrunch50 conference, finalists from the 52 companies selected to present at the conference were asked to describe their revenue models in 5 words or less.