Ninja Communications | If You Communicate It, They Will Come
Ninja Communications was founded by two professional communicators—Dan Agan and Joe Schreiber—who share a common passion for advancing the cause of science and the success of those who dedicate their lives to it.
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If You Communicate It, They Will Come

22 May If You Communicate It, They Will Come

 

In the 1989 movie fantasy, Field of Dreams, Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner, one

day hears a voice in his cornfield that whispers, “If you build it, he will come.”  Derided as a lunatic, Ray

nonetheless does build “it”—a baseball diamond—in his cornfield, and ultimately, “he” does come (for

the presumed handful who’ve never seen the movie, I’ll avoid the spoiler and leave it at that).

Through countless consulting engagements, I’ve repeatedly heard that memorable movie thesis twisted

into a metaphor for the assumed market irresistibility of innovative products, services, and initiatives.  In

so doing, the Field of Dreams allegory becomes simply a latter day spin on an even older metaphor:

“Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door” (which itself is a re-invented

phrasing of a quote widely attributed to an 1855 speech by Ralph Waldo Emerson).

 

The question is, does it really work this way?

 

Perhaps in the happily-ever-after, make-believe world of Tinseltown it does, but in the real world of

professional enterprise, the answer—certainly in the case of mousetraps—seems clearly to be “no.”

Scads of innovators have taken a swing at re-engineering the mousetrap.  As a matter of fact,

mousetraps are among the most doggedly invented, or more accurately, re-invented, devices around.

According to author David Burkus, the United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued more

than four thousand patents for mousetraps—and denied thousands more.  Even more bewildering,

hundreds of new mousetrap patent applications are submitted each year.  Yet, only twenty or so have

ever made any money.

 

All of which points to a painful truth: what you do—be it innovating better products, conducting

breakthrough scientific research, providing desirable services, or something else—rarely is enough to

attract the committed customers and funders you need.  Equally important, and some might argue even

more so, is the ability and will to insistently, persistently, and cogently sell yourself, your ideas, your

products, your services, your results, and your organization to essential stakeholders.  In short, you

have to persuade the world to start path beating.  Computing innovator and pioneer, Howard H. Aiken,

put it this way, “If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.”

That’s easy to say, not so easy to do.  It means convincing others that what you have done, or will do,

benefits them in a meaningful way.  Or, said differently, you must signal the value in what you do to the

outside world. And that means having some pretty serious communication chops.  It means aligning

what you want to say with the motives and aspirations of those who hold sway over your success—be

they prospects, customers, funders, investors, regulators, partners, employees, members, or someone

else.

 

So no matter your profession—businessperson, scientist, association leader, or mousetrap

engineer—persuading the world to beat a path to your door requires not only innovative products,

services, or initiatives, but also the compelling messages and communications that crisply and clearly

convey the worth and value of what you do.

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