Tearing Things Down to Build Them Back Up Again

Last week, I did a presentation about storytelling that was, frankly, flat.

At first, I thought maybe a presentation at a conference on a Friday afternoon isn’t the best idea given people are looking forward to socializing after a long day. Maybe I was tired after a long week, or perhaps the content simply didn’t resonate with the audience.

But in reflecting more on it, I realized the problem was the presentation. After taking a closer look, I decided the presentation is based on a good idea but the material didn’t have the best elements, content or flow.

What do you do?

If you’re honest about any product, you reload. It doesn’t mean scrapping the entire thing but, instead, only keeping the parts that work – even if it’s only a small amount. What I’m doing is taking a completely fresh approach that, hopefully will lead to a better product.

Given the marketing work I do with startups, it struck me there are key lessons from the “failure” of my presentation given many startups discover their original idea isn’t working. It could be timing, the economy or bad product-market fit.

One of the most difficult things for startups to do is accept is their current product isn’t working. They spend so much time, effort and money to create a product that it seems ridiculous to think the market isn’t interested.

This is a big mistake because it means startups refuse to accept reality. Startups that insist on banging away are destined to flail and probably fail.

When faced with the distinct prospect of failing, startups have to take a hard look at their product, market and the competitive landscape. Is what they’re selling sell-able? Are their marketing and sales efforts capturing enough attention? Do potential customers take the leap from interest to purchase?

If the answer aren’t clear or negative, a startup may have no choice but to reload. It could mean scrapping the product entirely or, more likely, finding something within their current offering they can leverage to head in a new and better direction.

Lesson: When a product isn’t working for whatever reason, you need to think long and hard about doing something different. Otherwise, you’ll start to spin your wheels.

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