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Thinking about Marketing Stickiness

Jun 13, 2008
A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a joke or worried to death by a frown on the right person's brow.

-Charles Browder

I was intrigued by finding a way to capture public imagination for the 400 Year Project (finding ways to demonstrate and encourage making improvements 20 times faster in all areas from 2015 through 2035). With enough interest, progress on the project would occur on many simultaneous fronts without any direct involvement by us as other people pioneered their own solutions.

We obviously had a problem. Everyone who heard about the project thought that "the 400 Year Project" was a vague and uninspiring way to describe our purpose. How could people who wanted to produce so much progress be so backward in communicating their purpose?

Our solution at the time was to downplay talking about the project and to focus instead on tangible benefits that people were seeking. One of our semiannual steering committee meetings involved having people tell us what would really excite them about making rapid progress.

I cringed when I learned that the consensus was that people wanted to learn better ways to persuade others to follow their every whim. Everyone in the room was confident that he or she was always right and only some weird perversity caused others to disagree.

When I gently suggested reasons why others might have a different perspective, some stoutly disagreed that that could be possible while others said that the others would just have to change their perspectives. It was yet more evidence that stalls (bad habits that delay progress) are present in even the best leaders.

I had forgotten an early lesson from law school: No two people see the same issue in the same way. In fact, you can often make quite powerful arguments in favor of more than two positions on an issue. Sometimes the issues are so closely conflicted among various interests that it's hard to pick a "right" solution.

I didn't think that helping people become more persuasive about their personal opinions was going to be the way to advance the project. But clearly if we strayed very far from self-interest, we would lose our audience and fail to gain interest from others.

In contrast to our fumbling efforts, we learned about a number of worldwide movements that had succeeded in gaining mass interest. All of these movements had a humanitarian bent and began with a solution in mind (or at least a principle to use in creating the specific solution). No one had, to our knowledge, stirred the popular imagination by leading a broad-based search for answers to thousands of important questions.

But we drew comfort from observing that the world is also full of people who either are high performers or who aspire to be high performers. Perhaps if we built on the motivation these people already felt for some desired result and gave the aspiring a better way to get to their outsized dreams, we could create a mass movement . . . one person at a time.

Here's how I imagined it might work: We arm an effective person with ways to accomplish more. In normal copy-cat style, dozens will emulate what that person does. Soon, there will be few choices but to follow the new level of effectiveness in that same area.

If we can encourage people to see the benefits of making breakthrough progress on a regular basis, there will soon be the kind of collective emphasis on breakthroughs in a given area that has driven the semiconductor industry forward so effectively for the last several decades.

I decided to explore that approach of arming the aspiring while keeping a watchful eye out for possible ways to create an interesting symbol or concept that would stick in peoples' minds to help turn them into effective innovators.

When we came up with the concept of calling accomplishing 20 times more with the same time and effort a "2,000 percent solution" we had the breakthrough description to get the attention of the aspiring.

Can you summarize your key benefit into a brief phrase, metaphor, or goal? If so, you'll vastly increase how many people are attracted to what you are working on.
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.fastforward400.com .
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