Monday, March 15, 2010

This Anchor Won't Weigh You Down

Ok, you’ve come up with The Next Big Thing. It’s a "game changer". “It will revolutionize the way people (fill in the blank).” Cool. Now how do you describe it?

Like most innovators, you struggle with telling people what it does. And forget about how it works. That’s way too complex.

So you stumble around as you talk about it, all the while watching your audience get more and more confused about this product that’s going to change the world.

What you need is an anchor.

People need to have a point of reference for new things. In a recent Fast Company article, Dan Heath uses the example of explaining NetFlix to someone who never heard of it. You could talk about mail order movies that or easy to return in a simple package. Or, you could say, “Think of Blockbuster, but by mail.” Having a frame of reference (Blockbuster) helps us understand in general, then the twist (but by mail) tells us why it’s different and better.

Most of my clients are technology start ups. They’re run by extremely bright, passionate engineers and scientists who understand the mechanics but sometimes struggle with explaining their products.

One company, NanoMech, was recently interviewed by the statewide ABC-TV affiliate. Keep in mind NanoMech is an advanced materials and nanomanufacturing company. Not an easy subject to explain. But they were able to use anchors and focus on the benefits of their products rather than how they worked. The result was an easy to understand description that a general audience could understand, yet one that more sophisticated viewers could appreciate as well. Click here and scroll down to see the segment.

For innovators, describing the value of your product is the key to your success. Anchors can get you there.

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