Founders have a lot of bound up thinking.
I call them “chain-link ideas.” It’s this concept where one idea relates to another, and each new idea pulls the next one along. Typically resulting in an avalanche of thought you can’t box up and sell as a product.
Innovators are passionate. They are in their space for a long time and often talk to people in this domain about their product. This makes it difficult for a founder or maker to explain their product to an outside audience. So if you’re creating a product and selling it online, you need to figure out a quick and efficient way to talk about it to the greater audience.
In the past, makers would turn to a creative agency to get this type of distillation. Paying thousands of dollars and taking up valuable time they don’t have when launching a new product. To combat this, I use an exercise called “The Page. The Paragraph. The Sentence”. This process allows founders to uncover the pure essence of their product in just one sentence, and they don’t have to pay anyone to do it for them.
The idea is that when you first start off describing your product, you have all these crazy thoughts that are difficult to explain. If you’re at a networking event or giving a demo, you don’t have time to go through all the nuances and retention. You don’t want listeners to lose interest and monopolize the conversation. When you go to sell a product online, you only have seconds to influence a users behavior. This makes boiling down your description to one sentence that much more critical to improving conversions.
Let’s quickly go over the three parts to this exercise:
The idea here is to document all your thoughts and put them on a page. Visualize the problem space with all it’s entirety on as many pages as it takes.
Here you want to tell the same story, but inside a paragraph. This acts as a filter because it forces you to prioritize certain concepts and cut out less important ones. After, I advise founders to go out and tell their story in this consolidated paragraph. You can do it at big networking events or local startup meet-ups. Ideally, you want to get comfortable with telling your story in short form.
Once you are fluent in the paragraph, it’s time to cut it back to a straightforward idea. The one insight you are trying to sell. Ask yourself, what’s the brand story inside of a second?
The reason you want to get your idea down to one sentence is that you don’t have the attention span of your market. Users browse quick, they scan and don’t read. Having a clear and concise way to communicate your product is the only way to disrupt hyperactive scrolling. This distillation reveals your core differentiator. It allows the product to explain itself in one sentence amongst the many other competing boxes along the digital shelf it lives on.
That’s why I encourage founders and makers to distill their idea into the purest form. The Page, the paragraph, the sentence is the quickest and easiest tool I’ve found for early stage makers to capture this essence.
Sep 8, 2018
By thinking critically about the design that exists around us - evaluating what works, what doesn’t and why - we can apply new perspectives and rigor to our work designing applications and systems and communicate more effectively through design.
Our observations range from big corporate rebrands to local business street fliers. With each, we’ve taken the time to break down the designs and offer our point of view via a ranking system modeled after the Robert Parker wine rating system.
Unsatisfactory: Does not achieve design or communication goals.
Satisfactory: Just enough, sufficient, fine or “sure.”
Good: It’s good.
Very Good: Better than most but not exceptional.
Exceptional: Unusually good, rare, outstanding.
We love looking at new things, so if you want us to evaluate something you have seen or made, feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org, and be sure to sign up for the quarterly Thought Merchants email to get new observations delivered right to you.