How researchers get heard

Ask Two Questions Before Launching Your Research-Based Idea

I’ve written before: Beware of successful launches.

By which I mean: A great launch is nothing without a follow-on campaign to keep your idea percolating in the minds of your network and beyond. Like I keep saying: Repetition is important.

What matters is whether your target audiences are talking and thinking about your idea six months after launch. Even better: adopting your concept into the way they do business.

Don’t pour all or even most of your promotional energy (or resources) for your new research-based idea into its launch. Save some for the long campaign that follows.

Having said this: A big new concept or research-based product must first be introduced to the people you want to use it, somehow. That means launching it well.

Too many launches are just about tactics — a long list of the content and assets to produce, whom to email, how often to promote in social, the budget for the ad campaign, the press list, etc.

Before all that, ask two questions.

First: What does the ideal journey of this idea look like?

What are my ideal outcomes for this idea — at introduction and then at six and 16 months post-launch? Whom is it impacting, who is adopting it — and in which ways? Who has to know about this idea right away to make my six- and 16-month outcomes happen? What’s my narrative for how they spread the idea — how specifically does that happen? And what’s my part in that narrative?

This is strategy — but strategy as narrative. Narratives without specifics are boring and easy to ignore.

So articulate this narrative as specifically as possible. Yes, types of people you want to reach. But also: real people, real names — especially the ones that are part of your fungal network and will spread your idea.

Your idea is going on a journey. Who will host it? Who will transport it to the next 10 hosts?

Second: What language do I want my network and others using about the idea to make the idea spread?

We usually call this messaging, and in its simplest form it comes in a three-part “message house” — a simple narrative progression of problem/solution/why us to solve it or problem/promised land/solution. To build the house, we ask questions such as: What’s the problem my idea or product is solving or at least framing? What does the promised land look like if others see the world the way my idea allows them to see it and act on that insight?

To these questions, let me add two more: What problem does my solution solve for my network and beyond? Why will these others feel urgency about spreading that way of seeing?

Don’t say: Oh, they’ll love this idea because it will solve a big problem in the world. How many research-based idea or products have died on that hill?

It must also solve a problem for others — one they’ve been struggling with. It must make their lives easier or better somehow.

This is the critical component of stickiness that almost everyone misses. We think about stickiness as catchiness, as contagiousness—as a bit of a trick or formula or gimmick.

At its core, stickiness is about utility. People open to ideas that are supremely useful. And they pass those things along with endorsement.

Messaging is strategy. Both are narratives of uptake and action. The two narratives should rhyme and support each other.

Once you understand what you want to happen and the language and frames you (and others) will use to set the table for those outcomes, your launch tactics should be relatively easy to scope.