So you love what you've made, it's been a long time of dedicated learning and practice until now. What you've created is almost like a baby or a pet. You love it and will do anything to make sure it thrives in the wild. Here lies your first problem. You are attached to it, your work is no-doubt a brilliant example of your talents and skills. You love it, and are highly protective of it. You don't want to fool around with it any more, it's perfect.
Well, one thing for sure is that no matter how you feel about your work, customers and clients will not have the same feelings about it as you. Imagine it this way, they love their money because through their own work, they've made it. They put effort and work into getting that money. If they're going to give it to you in exchange for your product or service, there had better be a good reason to.
Now we are hopefully seeing the issue. There are plenty of times when we hide the downside about things and people we love. We ignore it and forgive them. Our relationship is worth more to us than its flaws. This isn't how customers see products, especially new ones. Even loyal customers who use the same brand every time can be pushed away with the wrong message. If your friend mocked you when you were desperate, you'd not want to be their friend any more, right? We need to be able to see the wrong message before it gets sent out. We need to beat the critics by being our own.
When we know what people are going to look at and think about, we can understand what it is that might need to be improved. This works for plans, products, agendas, and services. Anything that can be looked at from the outside and judged, and we all make judgements, will benefit from this problem solving approach. We can solve the problem by foreseeing the problem. Not everyone is the same and people look at things very differently, however with a series of thinking tools we can get an holistic understanding of what we look like to other people.
Begin with comparing your work to what is popular and successful now. If you want to fit in and be accepted into your marketplace then you have to be at least comparable to the other things your idea will be listed with. If the idea is to stand out, loud and proud, then it has to actually do it and not just look like a proverbial sore thumb. Your work has to at least try to compliment the data that the real world is giving you. Not your ideal world or the imaginary one you pretend you're in, but the actual world and its actual data.
So your idea at least looks like it should be taken seriously. That's good, so what's next? People buy and choose with an emotional sub-context. They might rationalise their choice with excuses and reasons but in reality they know if they want something before they study it. They just like the look of it, or the name of it. This is an emotional and intuition based situation where from the briefest of cues, we make a choice. Look for these cues, amplify them, make your work as psychologically attractive as you can.
Next we have to seriously consider the positive and negative outcomes of our products and services. Are we hurting anyone, are we sending out the wrong message into society? Will this potentially go wrong? We have to be able to address each factor with a serious and mature response. A car manufacturer is well aware of the number of people killed in car accidents. They also spend a lot of money on making their machines as safe as possible. There are laws that make them do this, and if you start work in the professional industries there will be laws about your work too. All these real life outcomes have to be considered.
Next is the easy one. We have to look at our product as if it's exactly what we've been looking for. It tickles us and attracts us, we really want it. What could possibly get in the way? Why would you not buy it? How would you convince the person who wants it to make the natural next step and pay? How could they say no? Sometimes there's an obvious thing that's preventing someone, something that's not up to scratch perhaps, or could cause other people to think badly of a person buying it. Determine these factors and work on them.
Next we have to take an interesting viewpoint. By addressing the item with our imagination, we can find out how it might connect to people's thoughts. If we try to find situations and stories where our idea feels at home or like a metaphor, these might give us insights into how others may perceive the idea to begin with. If we close down our rational and linear mind, can our idea nestle comfortable in a sweet place where all our images and notions compliment it? This requires an abstract line of thinking but is revealing in its own right.
Finally, we need to be able to look at our ideas from every perspective at once. This might need a team of friends or colleagues to accomplish. Try to assess the project with every critical eye at the same time, put it through its paces, allow one to lead to another and build a house of problem cards. How high does it go? You need to be able to have constructive answers and solutions to each level, no-matter how precarious. You can do it!
If you really want to get stuck in, check out The Six Thinking Hats by Edward De Bono
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