If we build it they will come. It is the myth the film Field of Dreams made iconic and believable. We’ve lulled ourselves into thinking that we need to build whatever we’re building/creating – book, course, toolkit, software, farm, etc. – and people will magically show up to buy it. We combine this belief with the fear of someone stealing our idea. This results in us refusing to talk about what we are doing. We’re secretive with belief that once it launches the masses will come.
This is a disease in the NGO world.
We create manuals, tools, toolkits, write papers, and so on. And the ‘product’ is often the end goal, the result. Sometimes things catch on and the idea spreads, but this is rare and the exception that keeps the myth alive.
There is another way.
In our creation process we often talk to others to understand gaps, what’s needed, what’s missing. These conversations are a type of interview. And yes, sometimes they are meandering and disjointed, most conversations are. Sometimes we do surveys. Often we create that horrible first draft – you know that one that mostly gets crumpled up and chucked out, BUT the one that leads us to the all important second draft.
All of these steps along the way have value to us the creators, but also can be interesting and valuable to those we create for. We can share them. As videos, podcasts, blogs, newsletters, or whatever – they are content. And this content can help build an audience for that thing you are creating.
And yes of course in addition to this, it’s critical at the beginning to think who’s this for and how will they know it exists.
Field of Dreams is a nice feel good film, but films contain all kinds of things that aren’t real. Your work is too important to end up in another shelf graveyard. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth considering who’s it for, how will they know it exists, and how to engage them in the creation process.
The choice is up to us.