greg dahlen

Alumnus, academy of achievement

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If you have a great idea, do you still have to work to promote it? Should you have to?

Lots of people with good ideas in the world, do we usually have to work to promote our good ideas, should a good idea "sell itself"? Or is it reasonable that we have to work to sell it?

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    Jun 6 2013: Hi Greg,
    I'm simply reinforcing ideas that have already been presented on this thread.

    Do you HAVE to work to promote a good idea? SHOULD you HAVE to? SHOULD a good idea "sell itself"?

    I don't think I've ever observed a good idea selling itself.
    Creative people are often not very good salespersons, and probably would like to have their ideas or work sell itself.
    If the idea or product is not "known", then I do not see how it can sell, so someone has to promote it.

    I have some artist friends who do magnificent work, and they sometimes experience frustration when their work doesn't sell for awhile. As soon as they promote themselves by participating in art shows, put their work in visible places, etc., their work sells.

    It is reality, that one needs to promote, or have someone else promote, the ideas and workmanship of creative people.
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      Jun 9 2013: Well, one thing that interests me is YouTube videos "going viral," for example someone will film their cat doing something cute and the video will get five million views without the person doing much to promote it. Wonder how this works, apparently it's just that they got some great footage, one person sees it, perhaps they tell two friends, two friends see it, they each tell two friends, or............?
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      Jun 10 2013: As far as the goes, I can't see that TED promotes itself, its videos get millions of views, yet you never see, for example, a TV ad for TED. But other businesses spend a lot of money on advertising and promotion in order to succeed, I wonder why TED can get along without it?
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        Jun 10 2013: Hi Greg:>)
        I suspect that members of TED are helping to promote it quite a bit? I was introduced to TED when a friend sent me the link to a video (Jill Bolte Taylor - a stroke of insight), and in the years I've been a member of TED, I've introduced lots of people to the site. I think TED is spreading more by word of mounth (satisfied customers) than anything else:>)
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          Jun 10 2013: that sounds true, but what about Coke, presumably its customers are satisfied, yet it still advertises a great deal. Presumably Coke's customers give it good word of mouth, or maybe not?
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        Jun 15 2013: Perhaps it is the difference between profit and non-profit?
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          Jun 15 2013: well, I'm not sure, Colleen. TED is a non-profit and its videos get millions of views without TED promoting them very much. Coke gets millions of customers, but apparently feels they have to promote their product a great deal with advertising. I wonder why Coke has to advertise to get the customers, and TED doesn't? Maybe Coke has more competitors, does any organization quite do what TED does? But I notice that Whole Foods, a national supermarket chain, hardly seems to advertise, yet is very successful. And obviously they have a lot of competitors. So that doesn't seem to explain it. Of course, Whole Foods is quite unique, they have an unusual niche with their emphasis on organic. So maybe it is the being unique?
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          Jun 15 2013: by the way, Colleen, what things draw you to your computer besides participating in TED conversations?
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        Jun 15 2013: What draws me to the computer?

        Most regularly to connect with friends and family.....once in awhile research of some kind. There was a time that I did garden photo greeting cards, so I used that feature a lot, and I'm not doing that now. I do my own taxes, and sometimes there are volunteer related reports or letters....misc. "stuff":>)
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        Jun 15 2013: Greg, if you have never listened to Seth Godin or read his blog, which is the most read marketing blog written by an individual, you may find both quite interesting.

        He addresses the different ways it makes sense to market products intended for a mass audience and those intended for more of a niche audience

        His blog addresses more than marketing, though. Do check it out. He has three TED talks as well. Here is one: http://www.ted.com/talks/seth_godin_on_sliced_bread.html
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          Jun 15 2013: Thanks, F. Watching this talk, he is talking about making a product seem remarkable, fresh, new, that doing that sells. Wonder, does a Coke commercial makes the same old Coke seem new again, fresh again? How does it do this?
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        Jun 15 2013: I think the Coke example is the mass market rather than the niche product.
  • Jun 7 2013: Despite a contrary view expressed by R. Buckminster Fuller, I think that there is a point where promotion is a must just to get your idea known and considered by people that can implement it. Sometimes, like proposals made by H.G. Wells, Buckminster Fuller, or Dr. David O. Hestenes regarding education, it takes time for people to find ways to implement your ideas on a large scale. If you get your idea in writing in the 1920s, someone in the next century can read your idea and use youtube to implement it or as often happens, reinvent your idea. You can almost bet that there are others in the world that have had the same idea. Many will dismiss the idea in the next few seconds of thought. Knowing where to draw the line between promotion, persuasion and enticement amd just continuing to work unknown to the rest of the world s difficult. Sometimes the best promotion is your personal application of your idea. Placing too much empasis on your ownership of the idea can also backfire. Some ideas sell themselves but not to your own generation, but the next.
    Perhaps the biggest reason you have to promote your idea is because it is competing for attention with many other good ideas and many other people will decide for themselves whether or not it is really a good idea. Lots of good ideas have had unintended consequences as well and people will be looking out for those minus points.
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    Jun 6 2013: There are too many perceived barriers preventing ideas from going beyond the individual, through into the mainstream. Also it is a very rare individual indeed who can think of such an idea, and then go on to promote it. Creativity and salesmanship generally do not come in a single package.

    Some of the best ideas are the ones that are not immediately and broadly acceptable, and these are the ones that initially fall on very sceptical ears (usually the ears of those who are, unfortunately, ideally placed to promote it).

    It takes persistence, courage of conviction - and sometimes even aggression, to promote an idea in the face of such scepticism. Given that creative individuals are often sensitive souls, the very idea of having to put up such a fight is enough to make it more likely that the idea gets 'locked up' in it's creator - never to see the mainstream at all.
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        Jun 6 2013: I would agree with that.

        I would also add that those who are the most negative, are those most likely to claim your ideas as their own! I've seen this happen on several occasions.

        It's a strange quirk of human nature that in a free market world, ideas have become commodities to be coveted and 'possessed', rather than something of benefit for the greater good.
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    Jun 6 2013: I think yes, and it's because most really great ideas are not recognized until they have been proven to work. In fact the problem is that we can never know what a great idea is before it is tested for it's intended purpose. And if you intend to implement something on a mass scale you first have to test it on mass scale...

    Shai Agassi is an perfect example of when we thought something was a great idea, but it turned out it didn't work (for him).

    TED Talk Electric cars: http://www.ted.com/talks/shai_agassi_on_electric_cars.html
    Article on why it failed: http://mashable.com/2013/06/01/better-place-failed/
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    Jun 6 2013: My daughter suggests, Some ideas are so worthy it is glorious even to try and propagate them.

    Make your ideas so worthy so that people want to propagate them.
  • Jun 5 2013: I have lots of great ideas, that I never promote. They don't go anywhere. If I don't promote them, then who would know about them? And are they even "great"?
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      Jun 6 2013: Everett, please understand that in my mind "promote" could mean on the smallest level, simply telling your family and friends about them. Do you do this?
  • Jun 6 2013: Yes, and yes Greg.
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      Jun 6 2013: So, Mary, what do you do with YouTube videos that "go viral," the person who filmed it doesn't put much work into promoting it, yet it still gets five million hits or something?
      • Jun 6 2013: That is a byproduct of today's technology.
        Someone obviously downloaded the video on YouTube and put it out there where the "world is watching".
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          Jun 9 2013: Right, but my point is that in many cases they don't promote it, do they? For instance, aren't there home-shot "cat videos" that go viral, get 5 million views, and the person who shot them is not a professional, they don't do too much to promote them.
      • Jun 9 2013: You are correct.
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          Jun 10 2013: As far as that goes, I can't see that TED particularly promotes itself (for example, you never see an ad on TV for TED), and yet its videos get millions of views. Yet other businesses promote themselves like crazy in order to succeed. Wonder why the difference?
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    Jun 6 2013: If I don't communicate how people will know that what I have, is really a GREAT idea ?
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      Jun 9 2013: Well, Salim, how does it work when an amateur YouTube video goes viral, for instance someone films some footage of their pet cat, and it becomes popular without the person strongly promoting it.
  • Jun 6 2013: Ralph Waldo Emerson said something else, but salesman usually laugh at that quote.
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      Jun 6 2013: so what did he say, george?
      • Jun 7 2013: Sorry fashions change IT's the olf "If you have a better idea, the World will beat a path to your doorway." Never worked for me unfortunately.
      • Jun 11 2013: If you do the work to show you are disabled in the first two steps instead of the third a.k.a. ;the ALJ Hearing you don't miss two of the four opportunities to present your claim and statistically success can come faster. Does that make any senseto you?
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    Jun 6 2013: Great Idea / Invention / Discovery delivers nothing until it is communicated to people and make them understand its value proposition, so the answer is YES.
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      Jun 10 2013: Right, Salim, but what about TED, its videos get millions of views and they don't do anything to promote themselves, for example you never see a TV ad for TED.
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    Jun 6 2013: Exposure is must for your ideas

    if they are great your work becomes easier.

    The best combination is great idea with excellent exposure.
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    Jun 5 2013: I don't know if it is reasonable, but it is reality. How could you think otherwise?
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      Jun 6 2013: Thanks for replying, pat. Well, I was partly thinking of YouTube videos that "go viral." Think of the most-viewed YouTube video ever, "Gangnam Style," by Psy. 1,600,000,000 views. No way has Psy put promotion behind that thing to get that many, to some degree the video sold itself, would you concur?
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        Jun 6 2013: I have found that the key is to find out what people want and then promote that. If you have something that people don't want it is going to be tough sledding no matter what.