What’s the big idea?

Happy Easter everyone!

Whether you believe in Him or not, this long weekend has been brought to you by good ol’ Jesus S. Christ (S= Son of God). Believe it or not, and hopefully you believe in something (take note: atheists are more enlightened than agnostics because at least atheists believe in nothing while agnostics think there’s nothing to believe in), this weekend is a time for inner reflection, to reconnect with friends and family and to appreciate all that you have and all that you’re striving towards. However, for all the atheists and agnostics in the crowd, we can simply look at this weekend as a holiday in honour of the original marketer – the creator of innovation and invention.

Innovation: Sacrificing Himself for an unrepentant populace? This turned out to be a memorable and unique way to get their attention.

Invention: Rising from the dead. Many have tried to duplicate it but only the original succeeded. He got a people’s attention and thus cemented them as fans for life…and the afterlife too. (Want more info? Please see The Bible, available in hotel rooms nationwide)

Innovation is scary. Invention is scary. New ideas require a lot of work and a lot more courage to see them through. You need to take big risks in order to realize the big rewards.

Good ideas gone bad

I want the old stuff please

That’s why I drink Pepsi: This month marks the 25th anniversary of Coca Cola’s failed product launch for ‘New Coke’. This case study is well known and is used in many business classes as an example of failure in innovation. Coke changed the original formula of its popular coke beverage and launched ‘New Coke’ to the masses. Immediately Coca Cola was met with negative feedback and backlash from customers who didn’t approve of them changing the original. The company quickly removed it from shelves and shortly after re-launched the original coke formula as ‘Classic Coke’. Since the world still knows Coca Cola more so than the reason why we celebrate Easter, it’s safe to say the company didn’t suffer any adverse affects from this innovation snafu.

I don’t care how you do it, just get rid of it: The basic mousetrap exists and retails for under a $1 in most hardware stores.  This product is effective and produces the desired result – gets rid of mice. Over the years, many have tried to ‘build a better mousetrap’. As a result, a ‘better’ mousetrap was invented. Shaped like a small shoebox, it emits a pulse and attracts mice to enter into its cavity where it is securely locked in. The light on the box changes colour to alert the owner that a mouse is trapped inside. The trap is then brought out to a field, etc., where the mouse can be set free. Humane, reusable, guilt free and at the time of invention, retailed for just under $100. Each. A great invention, but the market at the time wasn’t there and few people were willing to pay for it.

So what’s a good idea?

Well if you’re eating something you crave, buying something you want (vs need), going somewhere you like and/or planning to do something you love then those are all examples of good ideas. They were created or innovated, packaged and marketed to you somehow and turned into something you crave/want/like/love.

Popular good ideas (off the top of my head):

  • The  iPod and its subsidiaries: iTouch, iPhone, etc. (please note: the iPad is still pending)
  • HD Television
  • Plasma TVs, LCD screens
  • Blueray DVD players and DVDs
  • Movie theaters
  • 3D movies
  • Air travel
  • Cars
  • Snowboarding/skiing/surfing/wakeboarding
  • Insert expensive and/or popular product here

Classic ‘bad’ ideas

Never heard of them? There’s a reason for that.

You want to do WHAT to me, doc??

  • Rabbit jerky: Yikes. Anyone want a piece of dried and flavoured Bugs Bunny?
  • Nestle choglit: A chocolate milk based drink that never took off
  • Sony’s eVilla – Launched in 2001, this portable internet device was priced @ $499 with a $22 monthly fee to surf the web. It was discontinued 3 months after launch.
  • GM’s Pontiac Aztek: Named ‘one of the worst cars of all time’ in 2007 by time magazine
  • The CueCat: Launched in 2000, this device scanned bar codes from magazine and newspaper ads, directing readers to Web sites so they wouldn’t have to  type in the URL. 2 months later, the CueCat barcodes were removed from the market.

Fortunately, Cuecat didn't come back the very next day

Ideas= 1% Inspiration+99% Perspiration

It’s one thing to have a great idea but you have to actually do the work to make the idea come alive. This is where the 99% gap exists. There are many great ideas out there but until they’re actually taken out of the brainstorming stage, they will continue to simply remain good ideas and nothing more.

Good or bad (your call), here are 5 random ideas I’ve heard over the years:

  1. Automatic knitting machine: put the yarn in a machine, choose your colour, style and pattern, wait 5 minutes and out pops the an original sweater design
  2. International Party Hosting: setting up social activities for locals or those visiting the city, focusing mainly on nightlife (restaurants and nightclubs)
  3. Having the Paralympic games right before the Olympic games: the closing ceremonies for the Paralympics would transition to the start of the opening ceremonies for the Olympic games.
  4. A Backwards (bizzaro) Restaurant: Entrées look like dessert and desserts looks like the entrée. Imagine a savoury cheesecake made from mashed potatoes and the sauce on top is actually gravy with a scoop of ice cream looking (meatloaf) on the side. You can have a lot of fun with this.
  5. Renting party people/friends (Wingman for hire):Too shy to hit the bar/club/social scene on your own?  Friends for hire take you around or simply act as your support group in a social setting to make you look and feel less awkward

My newest idea (currently in the perspiration stage) is to start a group with like-minded idea oriented people. In this group we’d share our ideas (on whatever) and get feedback and constructive criticism on what our next move(s) should be.  At our last (and first) impromptu meeting, I expressed a desire to get paid for writing. It’s one thing to call yourself a writer but it’s a whole other category to actually get paid for it too.  The top suggestion was that I look at current bad copy out there and offer to fix it with proper and good copy.  Bad copy includes advertisements and flyers and website content that has a lot of errors in it, improper wording or just plain bad English.

Can I get mine grilled or baked please?

The suggestion was that I contact the owners and offer corrective services at a price. I am currently pondering the suggestion. In my defence, I was really just looking for an easy solution (Sample ad: Will write for $$$. Payment up front please.) and this isn’t it.  This idea is a potentially sound one but will require a lot of work on my end.

When going for the perspiration end of idea fulfillment, the toughest element is always the ‘sticking to it’ part. The reason why 99% of the equation isn’t always completed is simple: it requires a lot of hard work and dedication. You’d think executing your idea would be fun and rewarding as you watch your idea get transformed from intangible to tangible and from imagination to reality. However, whether or not your idea will be a success in the end, in order to even get to that final stage you’ll need to (amongst other things): Create a short term and long term business plan; prepare a schedule with deadlines for significant actions; list the necessary resources you’ll need to achieve your objectives as well as methods to measure these objectives. You’ll also need to secure funding; set priorities; define the long-term objectives and short-term goals that breaks the larger objective into easy-to-achieve pieces.  You’ll have to plan and organize focus groups, create a marketing plan,  potentially hire staff and most importantly of all you’ll need to…

Well, you get the idea.

CueCat image source / Easter egg image source / Fried Crap source