By Erika Hovland
Is it really possible to just create something and have it magically draw people in?
The phrase “if you build it, he will come” from the movie Field of Dreams frequently sums up our greatest hope, and our internal fantasy about growing a business: people will just ‘stumble upon’ our product or service, immediately fall in love and buy, buy, buy. It happens just often enough, perhaps, to make us feel like it’s possible.
In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell discusses the 10,000-hour rule, which basically posits that you need to practice something for 10,000 hours to master it. If you’re a business owner, you’ve probably spent the 5+ years to master your particular field of interest. It involves a lot of internal work and internal growth – in other words, it’s a lot of trips to the batting cage.
If you’re holding on to the hope that people will just notice all of your batting practice (or your hard work in any area), it’s pretty safe to say you’ve got the Field of Dreams mentality. And this can be a huge roadblock to growing a business.
Let’s consider how much time you’ve spent mastering your ability to promote what you’ve been so diligently working on. Success is often dependent on the building part of “build it and he will come” — specifically building the external visibility of what you have done:
Build authentic relationships – build friendships, strengthen your network, tap into your connections.
Build your listening skills – ask questions to learn from others. They may have tips you can apply to your business, ways to avoid pitfalls, or suggestions of how to improve your product or service.
Build your moxie – unabashedly ask for something (an introduction, money, support, etc) by telling people what you are doing and sharing your excitement. Be willing to be “out there.”
If you build this, they will come. Especially if you deliver on the second message from the movie, which was “ease his pain.” A basic tenet of marketing is that you need to have a product that meets a need or want — if you have a product or service that eases a pain point, and then you’re out promoting it, you’ve got a better chance of going the distance.
Is it possible to be ‘discovered’ and then make it big? Sure. Maybe one in a million? (“So you’re telling me there’s a chance!” says Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber). But I would bet pretty big that even those ‘discoveries’ were more than just random accidents.
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