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Conversation starters

July 27, 2017

My previous blog presented some ways $1 billion could be invested. The plans were used so that a conversation could be started with the client. The first plan was about as conservative as you can get. The second was not as strongly on the other side of the spectrum as it could be, but adequate enough to be a viable plan as part of the discussion. Plan 3 is a good way to have the client indicate how they might want to spend their future time since earning a living is no longer one of his necessities.

I have found the technique of presenting choices a good way to begin a conversation and elicit comments, thoughts and insights from clients. Starting with a blank page is not as effective and a lot of time is spent exploring alternatives that could have been illustrated quite easily with some advanced thought. It takes work and focus to develop meaningful and believable alternatives, but the time is recaptured by shorter and much more productive initial meetings.

I learned this technique early on from a client that was a new product guru who always seemed to come up with additional uses for existing and stable products, many of which were household names. I know he was great at it because I saw his revenue stream and the avid and consistent re-engagement by his existing clients, and then the success of his suggestions by the promotional activities and advertising of the uses he introduced to them.

One day I asked my client exactly how his technique worked. He took the time to explain it and showed me some of his materials. What he did was make up professionally looking ads for his clients’ and their competitors’ products for crazy, but possibly plausible, uses. Sometimes he had 40 or 50 such ads. He then assembled a consumer panel [which also took much skill and perception] and showed them the “ads” and started asking what they thought, liked and didn’t like. He told me that “it is much easier to get ideas from bad choices than from no choices.” He then explained how some of the really bad ideas led to some great uses and new products.

I adopted this technique and it has worked great for me. Try it, I think you’ll see its effectiveness. Also, reread how I used it in the previous blog.

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