The Idea Life Cycle

Idea Life Cycle

If you have any background in marketing at all, you have probably heard of the product life cycle. This theory is unfortunately not really applicable for those of us who live in the world of ideas.

Great ideas come into the world through a variety of means including divine inspiration, observation, and conversation. Regardless of their origin, ideas follow a path from the time they are born, their genesis, until they are ultimately either accepted by the general public or just fade away due to lack of acceptance.

The timing of the idea life cycle is nebulous; each phase takes an indeterminate amount of time relative to the uniqueness of the idea and the receptivity of others beyond the person or people who introduce the idea. In addition, this cycle is not necessarily linear. Ideas can go from one phase to another without any logical explanation. It is difficult if not impossible to predict how an idea will flow through this cycle.

Nonetheless, understanding how the idea life cycle works can help those of us who thrive on innovation determine the trajectory of new ideas that we generate and share with others.

There are four phases in the idea life cycle: emergence; vetting; legitimacy; and, finally, either assimilation or psychic death.

Emergence: The idea is shared beyond its originators. The idea may spread quickly, at a snail’s pace, or at the speed of frozen molasses pouring out of a jar.

Vetting: Other people are starting to notice the idea and gauge its validity in alignment with their pre-existing ideas about the world. People react to the idea in a variety of ways from curiosity to animosity and everything in-between. There may be a few aha moments.

Legitimacy: The idea is tested as people start to integrate it with their existing perceptions and worldviews. These testers encounter reactions to this integration and decide whether to adopt or reject the idea based on both the ease with which they can integrate the idea into their lives and the reactions of their peers.

Assimilation or Psychic Death: The idea becomes adopted by a mass of people, and therefore it likely also becomes tainted in multiple ways by the people who feel close to this idea; or, it dies because people so vehemently reject it that there is no way it can survive. Ideas that live on or die can enter any phase of the idea life cycle as people, and their views, continue to evolve.

The Theatre of Me

One of my cats, Sugar, loudly cries while pacing through the house with a large stuffed monkey in his mouth whenever I am not immediately accessible to him. He does this when I am asleep at night, am on the phone, have company, or leave the house.

His sad expression is a performance, one that is communicating a deep sense of despair. But is he doing so for himself or for me?

I tend to think that he is doing it strictly for himself. He performs this act both when I am at home and when I am not at home. It is a means to soothe his spirit, not to provoke me.

When we communicate in any situation, so often it is for ourselves and not for the other person. We may be thinking about our interpretation of who that person is, or what we would like that person to do, but both of these are rooted within ourselves.

I think it is helpful to remember this in our interactions with others. When others say and do things that we find offensive or hurtful, it is an expression of themselves; it is not a reflection of us.

 

No is Better than Nothing

Too often, my email and phone inquiries are unacknowledged. I would rather hear a “no” than hear nothing. Saying no sets boundaries and is an expression of respect for ourselves and for other people. Not only is a response polite, even if it is negative, it helps the other person focus their time and energy on what is important and achievable. Why is it so hard to say no? I, too, have been challenged by this conundrum. It seems like the right thing to do, yet it feels so wrong. How can we change our thinking around declining the desires of others? How can we transform these situations into an opportunity to build relationships and community? Would you rather be ignored or informed?

Five Days of Marketing: Communication

The following is an excerpt from my new book, The Fruition Coalition Marketing Plan Workbook. ISBN 978-1-300-59132-1. $24.99.

Communication is the way that your organization formally and informally listens to, responds to, and shares information with its friends. To begin, we will create a list of key words and phrases associated with your organization and programs. This can be used as a reference when writing formal communications material.

From there, we will explore seven additional areas:

Communication Philosophy—To begin, we will explore your organization’s philosophy of communication and interaction with multiple stakeholders.

Customer Service—Next, we will explore how your organization responds to emerging community needs, responds to stakeholder concerns, and assures satisfaction with all aspects of the organization.

Printed Collateral—In this section, we will organize information about the various printed communication materials that your organization creates such as newsletters, flyers, and brochures.

Website—Then, we will work through a list of questions about your organization’s website to make sure it is adequately meeting the needs of your organization and your stakeholders.

Social Media—After examining your organization’s website, we will develop some strategies for effectively using social media.

Publicity—Next, we will develop specific strategies for your organization to effectively interact with traditional media.

Paid Promotion—After that, we will examine how advertising and direct mail can be used by your organization.

Promotion—In this section, we will look at the various ways your organization promotes its work to specific stakeholders and the entire community.

To conclude the communication section of this workbook, we will develop specific communication goals for your organization.

To begin, think of all of the reasons why your organization needs to use these communication tools. Check all that apply and any additional purposes.

____Recruiting program participants

____Other fundraising efforts

____Recruiting volunteers

____Announcements and news

____Recruiting board members

____Communication with stakeholders

____Recruiting staff

____Special events

____Other:

The Fruition Coalition Marketing Plan Workbook can be purchased at our store. An eBook version is also available.

Five Days of Marketing: Introduction

The following is an excerpt from my new book, The Fruition Coalition Marketing Plan Workbook. ISBN 978-1-300-59132-1. $24.99.

Marketing is the art of bringing together like-minded people to develop mutually beneficial relationships and to exchange ideas and resources. Organizations engage in marketing whenever they offer a program or service, recruit volunteers, or raise money. In other words, marketing is an ongoing, everyday practice. In this book, we will learn how to be more intentional and strategic about marketing so that your organization builds stronger relationships to achieve its goals.

In my experience, many people in the nonprofit sector resist marketing. It is sometimes thought of as a wicked enterprise that is based on deception and manipulation. Nonprofits sometimes adopt marketing practices from the for-profit sector only to deepen their distain for the field. In this workbook, we are going to redefine marketing as a positive, relational practice that is specific to social change and community benefit organizations. We will carefully explore and expose all of the mysteries of marketing, leading to both greater comfort and confidence as well as a solid plan that can benefit your organization, the people you serve, and your community. By the end of this book, I hope you will see marketing as both useful and fun.

I was a marketing major in college. I love creative ideas and creating connections. Marketing feels very natural to me. My marketing practice is authentic and holistic. It is an expression of my values and my hopes for the world. I never compromise myself when I engage in marketing, though I do sometimes stretch myself so that I am able to meet others where they are. As you work through the pages in this book, think about your own philosophy of marketing and how it can be an expression of your organization’s core values.

We are going to begin by carefully examining your organization. We will start by exploring your organization’s values and culture. From there, we will identify core competencies, describe your programs and services, describe your location, and articulate your brand. Next, we will examine the social, institutional, and political environments in which your organization is situated. From there, we will explore all of your organization’s internal and external relationships. After that, we will discuss how your organization can communicate with the many people and organizations that are involved with your work. After we have explored your organization, environment, relationships, and means of communication, we will start to develop specific marketing goals and strategies. To conclude, will organize everything into a living plan to guide the marketing efforts of your organization.

With best wishes for continued success in responding to community needs and creating new possibilities,

Jessica R. Dreistadt

Founding director, the Fruition Coalition

The Fruition Coalition Marketing Plan Workbook can be purchased at our store. An eBook version is also available.

 

Peaceful Communication

I find the use of the word nonviolent troubling. The word nonviolence assumes that violence is the norm and as long as we use words such as nonviolent the material conditions that create such a norm cannot be shifted. Using double negative language reinforces the very things we want to change; at best, it cancels out negative things. Our language should reflect the world we are trying to create. It should be superfluously affirmative and constructive. For example, we can engage in peaceful communication instead of nonviolent communication. The more we express what we desire, the more easily it will become the norm.

Why Do You Ask?

Questions are a powerful means of exploration and discovery. When you ask or are asked a question, think about its purpose. Is it to…
  • express sincere curiosity?
  • make irrelevant conversation?
  • make a statement (rhetorical)?
  • expose others’ ignorance?
  • pry into the personal lives of others?
How can we be more intentional about the questions we ask to build stronger relationships, organizations, and communities?