Sometimes, the simplest ideas turn into the most profitable ones
By Jeffery Hoyle
Emphasis Marketing & Communications
Greetings to you all from balmy Palm Springs, California. They say there is no rest for the weary … or is it wicked? I can never remember. Anyway, while here, I was introduced to a really great guy named Larry Allen. Who knew that even while on vacation, potential business prospects can just drop into your lap? But I am already off course. Larry Allen is a television producer, based out of New York City, who is doing a home swap with some friend in Palm Springs. While blotting away the beads of sweat like the rest of us on these 100 degree days, Larry is also taking this time to put the finishing touches on a book that has such a potential to explode into the stratosphere, it’s astounding. Now, as a matter of professional courtesy, I won’t divulge too much of his subject matter. But I will say this: he has stumbled onto something that could cause an enormous sensation if it’s marketed correctly. Hello?!? That’s where I come in!
But again, I am off the topic. What got me thinking, after speaking with Larry about his project, is how some of the most seemingly simple ideas can become the next greatest thing since the invention of the wheel. Ideas are bouncing around in our heads at break-neck speed all the time. Sometimes, it seems almost impossible to calm them down long enough to put together a decent thought about any one of them. But when you can hone in on the power of that one great idea, even the simplest thing can have an impact we never dreamed of.
Take the case of the popular steak sauce Heinz 57. As the story goes, in 1896, while riding a streetcar, founder H. J. Heinz spotted an advertisement for a shoe manufacturer boasting “21 Styles of Shoes.” This sparked an idea in his head. He combined his lucky number five with his wife's lucky number seven, and an idea was born. And even though the company at the time was producing more than 60 different varieties of condiments and other products, “More than 57 Varieties” became part of the advertising copy for the company. All these years later, Heinz 57 is still around, and as popular as ever.
Now are you starting to get the idea? Even something as simple as the Heinz 57 story can have far-reaching results long after the initial idea was formulated. Was it rocket science to pick the two numbers to come up with “57” as part of a company’s historic identity? No, it wasn’t. But here we are, more than 100 years later, and the brand stands strong. Who's to say that with care and planning, your brand can’t stand the test of time as well?
So, how do you harness all of these million dollar ideas anyway? If you’re like me, so many ideas are swirling around in your head, it’s enough to put on matching shoes some mornings. As old fashioned as it sounds, I rely on the old pad and pencil method. Yes, I know; it’s the 21st Century … the digital age. But if I relied solely on my Blackberry to take all my notes for me, you wouldn’t be reading this article until three months from now. No, a blank sheet of paper and a sharpened pencil — that’s for me. It is reliable, inexpensive, and readily available almost everywhere. Have you ever dropped your precious PDA in the middle of the street in “Bumblestump USA,” only to find that not only is there nowhere to take it for repair, there isn’t even anywhere to buy a replacement. A pad and pencil will never let you down in such a way.
So, just start scribbling ideas as they come. Here is where going off on tangents is acceptable. You can erase and start over again if you need to, and no one will yell at you. Once you have a good surplus of million dollar ideas, start prioritizing. Using that brain now will stop you from wasting time in the future, so choose wisely. Whittle that list down to your top five or 10 ideas, and then prioritize them. Once you’ve done that, now wait for it … wait for it … voila! You have just formulated a plan. Congratulations! Now prioritize each step that would be required to execute each idea, and before you know it, you are on your way to a lifelong brand/product/million dollar moneymaker. As we discussed in