By: Chuck Frey
For many innovative people, the problem is not coming up with enough ideas, but getting attention for those ideas we decide to implement. To solve this problem, we need to invest more time developing persuasive stories that make an emotional connection with the people we’re trying to influence. That’s the message of Bernadette Jiwa’s terrific book Make Your Idea Matter: Stand Out With a Better Story.
Whether you’re a corporate innovator trying to grow internal support for culture change or a lone entrepreneur trying to gain support for her new idea, this excellent book has much to offer. “Make Your Idea Matter is a call to action for entrepreneurs, emerging brands and anyone with a great idea, who knows that to stand out in today’s noisy world they need to tell a better story,” the book’s introduction suggests.
Each chapter is only a handful of pages in length, primarily because much of the content was inspired by posts appeared on Jiwa’s business blog, The Story of Telling. This format also makes the book a quick read, ideal for consuming in small chunks.
What differentiates Make Your Idea Matter from the average blog-to-book conversion is the quality of Jiwa’s thinking. As I read the book, I found myself going, “Whoa! That is really useful! I need to try that.” Also, thematically, the book hangs together better than the average collection of tips and strategies. Make Your Idea Matter is a deep, thought-provoking book that will get you thinking about how to craft your ideas so they resonate more strongly with the internal and external customers that matter to you.
Sampling’s of Jiwa’s sage advice on developing ideas that sell:
“Begin everything from where your audience is. Set out to deliver to them the feelings they want to feel. Your idea must matter to them, not just to you.” Sounds obvious, right? Then why do most people create ideas that they think are incredibly cool, try to force fit them into the marketplace and then get disappointed when they don’t do well? Customer-centric ideas have a much better chance of survival and success.
The most successful ideas today have a viral quality about them. They don’t need expensive marketing budgets to be successful.
“The products and services you want to sell will not succeed in the market if you don’t address the emotional wants of ‘real people.’ A business (your business) needs to look past the labels it gives to people it serves, and see their hopes, dreams, fears and aspirations. Real people become fans of things they care about.” The most successful ideas today have a viral quality about them. They don’t need expensive marketing budgets to be successful. They are so well crafted that they seem to sell themselves. People are willing to tell others about it, spreading the word about the product, service or idea in much the same way as a virus leaps from one host to the next. That’s what you ought to aim for with your best ideas – an emotional connection with your audience that makes them want to share your idea for you. Examples of companies that are doing this, which Jiwa cites in the book, include Dollar Shave Club, Zappos, Anthropologie and TED.
One of my favorite aspects of this information-packed book is the fact that Jiwa sprinkles it with thought-provoking questions, designed to help you implement the strategies she describes. Also, as you would expect, a book about how to tell better stories about your ideas is itself filled with memorable stories that help to illustrate key points in Make Your Idea Matter.
Jiwa also spends a significant amount of time explaining in layman’s terms what branding is, and why it matters. Successful brands, she says, are “founded on a great mission, a story that we want to believe in.” Think TOMS Shoes and its innovative “One for One” program (when you buy a pair of shoes in TOMS online store, the company donates a second pair to someone who doesn’t have any shoes.
Make Your Idea Matter is a must-read for every innovator and brand manager. In a world that is filled with countless books on techniques to create and cultivate ideas and a creative mindset, Bernadette Jiwa’a marvelous book is a breath of fresh air, shedding new light on an aspect of creativity that hasn’t gotten enough attention. In writing this book, Jiwa practices what she preaches: Her marvelous storytelling ability has persuaded me to follow her blog closely to learn even more about how to make my ideas more customer-focused and successful!
By Chuck Frey
About the author
Chuck FreySenior Editor, founded InnovationTools.com and served as its publisher from its launch in 2002 until the partnership with Innovation Management in 2012. He is the publisher of The Mind Mapping Software Blog, the definitive souce for news, trends, tips and best practices for visual mapping tools. A journalist by trade, Chuck has over 14 years of experience in online marketing, and over 10 years experience in business-to-business public relations. His interests include creative problem solving, visual thinking, photography, business strategy and technology. His unique combination of experience and influences enables him to envision new possibilities and opportunities.