When I was the dean of a business college, I was frequently asked to meet with people in the business community who had a big idea and a website or invention to go with it. I had similar experiences in Silicon Valley when I worked in broadcast television. I reviewed website ideas almost daily.
The meetings were painful. The people weren't bad but rarely did I see an idea that was ready for the marketplace. The fundamental problem with most ideas is that there is little thought given to demand assessment.
My favorite query is to ask about the hole in the marketplace. I especially like to ask the question of someone who wants to start a new restaurant.
"People are eating somewhere tonight and ate somewhere last night. What makes you believe that there is demand for your new gourmet hot dog cafe? How many hot dogs will people eat in a week?"
Idea people ask a few friends about their idea and get excited when they hear that their friends would be the first customers. Chatting with friends about an idea is hardly demand research. At best, friends are friends and will happily encourage other friends to "go for it."
Ideas are not reality. Demand is reality. I want the product or service and I'm willing to pay for it. But there is another caveat hidden within the willingness to pay question.
Ideas need to be vetted in one primary metric—customers may buy the product once, but will they buy it again? Are customers willing to pay—AGAIN?
Let's apply this business question to ministry ideas. Leaders must develop a mechanism to vet new ideas to evangelize through programs and activities. Too often, good ideas are confused with good ministry.
As with new products and services, new ministry programs should be preceded by demand assessment. As leaders, we may be convinced to support a new program because "everyone said they would love to attend."
But will they attend again?
Some programs burn out quickly because demand did not exist from the beginning. It was an idea but the reality became known a few weeks into the launch.
It's relatively easy to create excitement, gain staff involvement and fund a new project.
It's nearly impossible to sustain a good idea in the face of no demand and bad reality.
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"For who among you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost to see whether he has resources to complete it?" (Luke 14:28).
Platform Tip #101
Platforms work because your message attracts an audience with felt needs.
Most people will not respond to platform opportunities without a felt need.
Perhaps you read these platform tips because you feel a need to get your message out to more people. But if these tips were focused upon motorcycle maintenance, perhaps I would lose you as a reader.
Before you write your next message, write a note to your readers to explain the need you are addressing. You don't need to send the note, just be clear and concise about who you are writing to.
Re-read the note every day before you write. It's amazing how clarity will make you a better communicator.
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Dr. Steve Greene is the publisher and executive vice president of the media group at Charisma Media and executive producer of the Charisma Podcast Network. His book, Love Leads: The Spiritual Connection Between Your Relationships and Productivity, is now available.
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