Everyone has ideas, but only a few people get those ideas made. The truth is, “idea people” are important, but sometimes it seems like they’re a dime a dozen. That’s why it’s the “execution people” that interest me. Moving your book, movie, business, or whatever idea to the production and funding stage is a challenge. Here’s some ideas to help make that happen:
1) What’s in it for me? The investor, movie studio, publisher, or record producer isn’t investing in you, they’re investing in them. They have goals. They have targets. The main reason they’re interested in you is for how your idea can help them. Fashion your pitch in those terms and your success rate will turn around.
2) Do your homework. If every investor, producer, donor or whoever has a goal, then how do you discover that goal? Read industry trade magazines, talk to friends and associates, search the web. Study your target long enough and you’ll start seeing what they really want in life. Remember that some Hollywood studios will invest in a film they know won’t make money because what they really want is an Oscar. Knowing that ahead of time will help you enormously.
3) Don’t be obsessive. I meet people all the time with great ideas, but they’ve become so obsessed with those ideas, I don’t like being around them. I understand their passion, but other people don’t think about your idea all the time. Cultivate the art of conversation. Don’t make everything about your ideas. Develop relationships, not targets.
4) Don’t sell your ideas. I had lunch with my CPA today and he was telling me how he grows his business. He said he never pitches his CPA business, but he listens for openings. When a someone at a party mentions a financial issue, he offers ideas, suggestions, and expertise. Before long people are asking for his card, and pretty soon they’re clients. Sometimes the soft sell is a far better tool than constant pitching.
5) Remember that less is more. My wife Kathleen and launched a nonprofit organization called “The Influence Lab.” I put together a rough proposal for donors and sent it to a very wealthy business leader to ask for his advice. His response: “Cut it down. It’s too much information.” I thought potential donors would want to know the details, but my friend said that he wanted the high points. He wanted to understand the purpose, and he had enough confidence in me to know the details would be taken care of. He said that he makes multi-million dollar decisions based on instinct and experience, not loads of boring information.
There is an art to making ideas happen. These five techniques are a good place to begin learning that art.