Sharing with, and efficiency

There’s been some interesting discussion on the pop-up forum for this pop-up email list, especially this one from @KiraHiggs:

Reflecting on the notion of buying in, it strikes me that it’s more of a sharing with than a buying in. Buying in connotes an offer someone puts forward that I either accept or reject. Whereas what I think you’re noodling here with is resonance, alignment, affinity.


I agree. Ultimately it’s a participatory with. For me, it’s an offer that you create when you’re making a decision about the “where are we going” and “why are we going there” aspects of the business. After that decision is made, then it becomes a “we buy into this together” or a “I continually invite others to buy into this idea with me” sort of feeling.

Said differently, if the business doesn’t also buy into the idea, then why is the business promoting the idea in the first place?

What does it look like to promote an idea in order to sell related tools?

Promoting ideas is hard. It really is. Even if you have clarity on what idea you want folks to buy into, promoting it is still hard.

But yet, promoting an idea has so many benefits. If the idea is bigger than you, then you’re not promoting yourself! That eliminates or at least reduces a huge marketing pain point for many of us.

If the idea serves your client/prospect/market’s best interest, then your promotion of the idea is not an act of self-service or self-aggrandizement. It’s primarily an act of service; one that has second-order financial benefits for your business. Both of these, I think, address real concerns that many of us have about “doing marketing”.

It does seem, however, that if we could promote an idea and also offer the tools that support that idea, the tools might sort of sell themselves? Like pickaxes, shovels, pans, and denim jeans did in 1850 in San Francisco? Maybe we can operate like ethical Samuel Brannans?

We could think of our business as selling tools but our marketing as selling the idea, and if it all really works this way, then we have an answer to a fundamental business design question, and that answer is: figure out the idea you want to invite buy-in to, build tools that support that idea, and then sell the idea. (All this, of course, is executed over time — you can’t fully realize this kind of business overnight.)

But again, selling ideas is hard, and I’m not sure it comes naturally to most of us. Also, selling ideas might not be a very efficient way to sell tools, right?

I’m generally very wary about efficiency driving too many of our business decisions (because most of y’all are running innovative, not efficient, businesses and also because it pushes us to use really crappy marketing approaches when we over-index on efficiency), but at the end of the day most of us are soloists and so our scaling and marketing does need to make use of efficiency where it makes sense for us, so we can’t totally ignore things that promise efficiency.

So maybe there’s a tension we need to resolve between promoting not-directly-monetizeable ideas and the directly-monetizeable-tools that support progress in those ideas?


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