Originally published with the Forbes Coaches Council, April 2018.
When you have a great new idea, launching it successfully and refining into a unique value proposition are enormous accomplishments. But don’t stop there. To truly explore the potential of a new idea, you need to keep finding ways to communicate your passion and reach new audiences.
With my big idea, The Latimer Group, I’d spent several years researching the field and building my network and skills. In the next phase, I concentrated on refining my goals, differentiating my message and investing what I needed into the company in order to grow more. I wrote two books, hired a colleague to collaborate with and increase my capacity and developed a strong client list.
What was next? For any big idea, the next two phases could be called Document and Deliver.
Document: This is when you find a way to make your idea tangible, systematic and replicable. You need to be able to deliver it to your clients (be they internal or external) in a way that they can grasp quickly and easily, and turn your message into action.
Deliver: This phase is about both breadth and depth. You want to deepen your relationship with your clients so that it’s not just about delivering great service one time but building a long-term relationship. In this phase, too, you can find ways to broaden your reach, finding new ways to communicate value to new potential clients or partners.
The key developments for The Latimer Group during these two phases were tied to the hiring of three new staff members: Amy, Hannah and Kendra. Each one played a crucial role in refining our message, packaging and supporting it in ways that increased its value to our clients and disseminating it to wider audiences and through new formats.
Our first hires happened during the Document phase, which for The Latimer Group, took up about two years. I realized that we needed to bring on new employees, both to handle our current rate of business and to achieve our growth goals.
First was Amy, who I’d met through a mutual friend. We’d discussed working together, but what I thought I was looking for wasn’t exactly what Amy needed at the time, so we amicably agreed to stay in touch. Then I invited her to a workshop. She was so impressive that I immediately called my colleague Whitney and said, “We have to have Amy on our team.” I rewrote the job description that night.
What Amy did for The Latimer Group was take our message — what we had refined through the years in communications coaching, through writing books, and in thinking deeply about what set us apart — and distill it into a cohesive curriculum. Now, we had a course book that set out specific skill sets and characteristics that we could pinpoint and workshop.
Hannah’s hiring formed a bridge into our Deliver phase. Together with Amy, she helped embed our curriculum into our clients’ professional development plans, creating a robust follow-up program that emphasized feedback and ongoing training. We went from discrete communication coaching workshops to a holistic system of on-site training, in-depth feedback and specific, actionable levels of skill progression and ongoing evaluation.
And now, we go broader.
Starting in 2017, we aimed to expand more vigorously into e-learning and hired Kendra, our e-learning designer and facilitator. She’s helping us move nimbly across platforms to disseminate our expertise in a variety of formats and translate our insights into microbursts of learning that suit the Twitter and Snapchat generation. The core message is the same, we’re just delivering it in new ways, to new audiences.
As you think about Document and Deliver, keep these questions for yourself in mind:
1. How can I make my idea more tangible for my audience? Whether you are explaining a new product, distilling a business plan or setting forth a new initiative at work, give your intended clients a specific, easy-to-understand set of ways your idea will make their lives or work better.
2. How do I go from idea to practice? Find the action items that take your idea from concept to reality. It’s not your client’s priority to fit your idea into their process, it should be yours.
3. How can my idea deliver over the short-term? Make sure you can explain how, when and why your idea can pay off immediately.
4. How can I reach out to new audiences? Are there new forms of communication you haven’t yet mined? Are there new venues for promoting your idea? Stay curious about new ways to reach new audiences. The more you broadcast your idea, the more likely it is that you’ll develop clients you never knew possible.
5. How can my idea deliver over the long-term? Don’t stop at convincing your audience of the benefit right now — make sure they see the value of investing in your idea beyond the initial phase. Getting new clients is great; keeping a client coming back over months and years is invaluable.
Your journey may be different from mine; what took The Latimer Group years could take you months or even weeks. But it’s important to give each phase its due when you set out to launch a big idea into the world, to add value to what you offer, to make it deliverable and to broaden your reach. By breaking your journey down into discrete, achievable steps, it becomes much more likely that you will take your idea from dream to reality.