Your idea must have a no-brainer value proposition

Your idea needs to have a no-brainer value proposition, where a value proposition is a “promise of value to be delivered. It’s the primary reason a prospect should buy from you.” [ref (it’s a great article by the way)]. People need to see your value proposition and think, “I need that!” Here are two examples:

Think about Viagra’s value proposition. It goes something like this: “Hey Mr. Can’t Get It Up, are you having problems getting an erection? Take this pill and problem solved! Only $10.” Think about how powerful this value proposition is. For many people on this planet, sex is really important. But some people have this unfortunate condition that cuts them off from sex. Now there is a solution to this problem and it is only $10, and super easy. And millions of people have the condition. This is a great idea with a great value proposition. Wow.

Terravion is not quite at this level, but it still has a compelling value prop. To understand it, take a look at this aerial view of Kansas:

See all of those circular fields? They are all being irrigated with something called a center-pivot irrigation system. Essentially it is a big arm that walks around the field in a circle. Take a look at these images if you have never seen one before. The irrigation water comes out of these spray heads called emitters.

Let’s say one of the emitters clogs up and stops spraying water. It can cause tens of thousands of dollars of damage if not fixed – up to $100,000 in crop damage from a bad emitter. What Terravion does is charge a farmer $4/acre to fly over his/her farm and take pictures 12 times during the growing season. If there is a clogged emitter, it shows up instantly on an infrared image and the farmer can fix it, preventing tens of thousands of dollars of crop damage during the season. And any given farmer is likely to get one or two clogged emitters each season. So one of Terravion’s value propositions to a farmer with a 400-acre corn field is:

    “Pay us $1,600 and we can prevent tens of thousands of dollars of crop damage from your inevitable clogged emitters.”

Wow – that is a great value proposition. If you present this value proposition to many farmers, they can instantly see the value and they buy what Terravion is selling. Fantastic ROI.

You want your product to have a no-brainer value prop like that. Something that makes it immediately obvious that by spending money on your idea, the customer will receive real value, real ROI.

Rephrased Rule #2 – Find a big, fat pain point for some group of people

Men with ED have a big, fat pain point: they cannot have sex. Farmers with center-pivot irrigation systems have a big, fat pain point: Sometimes the emitters clog up, and it can cause tens of thousands of dollars of crop damage. If you can create an idea that easily relieves the pain, and if the relief is perceived to be a value (e.g. it costs less than the problem), then you have an idea worth something.

Let me also mention that it is sometimes easier to think about “an audience” rather than “a product”. For example, let’s say your audience is farmers, and you want to make their lives better/easier/less complicated/whatever. Farmers have hundreds of problems that you could solve, hundreds of pain points that you could address. Maybe your first idea for farmers does not resonate, or does not have a strong enough value proposition. Then look for other problems farmers have and try again.