Copyright NBC, Inc.
Sport the jeans that scream, “it’s a bad idea.”

I am on Spring Break, so I have time to muse about important things in life, such as my favorite SNL skit, “Bad Idea Jeans.” My sister and I used to watch this and end up on the floor laughing hysterically. It was what young kids today would call LOLIRL. But now, I wonder if it was more than that. The clip so stuck with me and became such a constant reference point that I feel like there was possibly a cosmic connection. Years later, as I find myself dealing with so  many bad ideas, I can’t help thinking that I was laughing-it-off, in advance.

Now, I know that I sound mean when I say that someone’s idea is a “bad” idea. Really, I do not mean it like that. Ideas are like art — they should not be managed, controlled, and created simply for commercial value, with no deeper attachment or commitment. In reality, good ideas abound, which is why I try to eliminate the label of “bad” and simply make the distinction between a good idea and a marketable idea.

Like the suggestion of a morning french toast delivery service. I love that idea! Who would not want to wake up to warm, sweet, french toast every morning? Room service is my favorite thing about traveling. You just put that little card out (usually filling it out late at night when you are sleepy and hungry) then awake to your ideal breakfast on a silver platter. Replicating that as a concierge service in the real world is an awesome idea. I love it!

Unfortunately, for the people involved in that conversation, it was not a marketable idea. The resources and planning that it would take to launch a successful concierge french toast delivery service was beyond this particular group, with not a restaurant owner, chef, marketer, or start-up investor among the them. In the past, I would just smile and nod all the while thinking fondly of the days when I could lean over to my sis and whisper something about them having donned their bad idea pants.Thankfully, I am mature now and certainly more experienced, so my response was not sarcastic, but advisory.

People tell me about their ideas because they trust me to give impartial, practical, and experienced consultation. This time I chimed in with a speech about taking it from Good Idea to Marketable Idea — which is what I wish more business people and entrepreneurs understood. You can have lots of good (or even great ideas) yet few of them, once examined, will be marketable ideas.

A healthful hunger for a great idea is the beauty and blessedness of life. ~ Jean Ingelow

One of my favorite publications is the Houston Chronicle. They offer wonderful small business content and I always find what I need there. In her article about marketability, Leonor Crossley, of Demand Media, covers four key areas: Demand; Relevance; Competitiveness; Promotion. In this economy and global marketplace, I think that a super-focused niche is better, but entrepreneurs rarely want to have just a few customers — they want a gazillion, and they want them now. When seriously considering your good ideas, the issue that need to be addressed the most is how promotable the idea is because where start-ups and small businesses fall down in new endeavors, is in the marketing and promotion.

My advice when considering a good idea versus a marketing idea: figure out (and seek professional advice, please) how marketable your idea is. Will there be media interest? Can you generate content and engagement around the idea? Can you build a community that supports the idea? Does all of this already exist in droves? If you (and your data) can say yes to these questions, then forge ahead.

If not, hopefully you can console yourself with my funny SNL video.

Need help figuring out if your good idea is marketable? Let’s talk! ~ Jules

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