Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pitch your tent where it's dry

Pitch your tent where it's dry:
Silly question: Does it snow in Utah because that's where they built the ski areas?
Of course not. It's obvious that you find the snow and then you build the ski runs.
Years ago, a friend was frustrated by the fact that the toy industry wouldn't license her fabulous ideas for new products. She rarely got meetings, was often disrespected and couldn't make anything happen. In a situation like that, it's easy to question the ideas themselves, and to doubt the quality of the work. When I pointed out to her that the toy business actually has a long and dismal history of acquiring and promoting new ideas, she switched--and the book industry (which publishes thousands of new projects every month) opened the door and the market made her a (huge, and deserved) success.
Whether you're a non-profit fundraiser or someone selling b2b, understanding the profile of what's succeeded before you is a little like understanding where it snows. Sure, it's possible to invent an entirely new market dynamic, to persuade the previously unpersuadable. If that's your mission, go for it. But if your goal is to make your project work, to engage in a way that makes a difference right now, you're better off planting seeds in fertile soil.
Insisting that you're "right" isn't nearly as effective as building your organization in a place that's conducive to what you're trying to accomplish. Right is meaningless if it doesn't lead to a connection, and complaining about a wet sleeping bag gets you no sympathy.