As I wrote earlier, I’ve been working for a couple of different organizations helping them analyze projects and transmedia projects in particular over the past month. Looking beyond the debate (which has faded quite significantly, perhaps to the current non-buzzwordiness of the term) about what exactly should be considered ”transmedia”, some things have jumped out at me time and time again while reading projects plans and proposals, and interviewing the people behind them.
Many have great ideas, good solid foundations for their projects. Many have a passion about what they are doing or what they would like to do. Many have high hopes for their projects, dreams and visions of how they could make their impact on the world.
Here though, are five things I believe many people miss when they develop their projects and try to communication what they want to do and why anyone should buy into it. You see (and I’ve been in this same position myself) – you get that brilliant idea for a project, a story, a film, a transmedia entity or whatever. When you do get that idea, you need to do these five things, and keep doing them as a continuous part of the development work. They will give your project stability, added creative input, new financial possibilities and an increasing likeliness of your project reaching your intended audience.
(This is a continuation of and an add-on to the last post I wrote – and I hope I can get future projects to read these and take them to heart!)
- Do your research. This is something that many projects I’ve been approched with have failed to do, to a higher or lesser degree. That brilliant idea you have? You’re not the first one to have it. You’re probaly not even the tenth first person to have it. All that matters is that you’re the one who actually makes the idea into something real in a way that no one has been able to do before. What you need to do is to find out what other similar projects have been launched or proposed, and what happened to them. Learn from their mistakes, let yourself be inspired by their success… and if push comes to shove and someone else has created your idea in a way that you don’t believe you can improve on – walk away. Go dream up a new idea and a new project!
- Another stumbling point – still, which amazes me – is the audience. Not the audience per say, but the attention the creators pay to the audience. It is a fairly straight forward procedure – as long as you know what audience you’re aiming for – to look at what kind of things interest them, how they behave, what their wants and needs are. Not only does this give you a lot of fodder and thought for your project, it also lends a considerable amount of credibility to your project when you approach financiers, partners, clients etc.
- Work on your pitch. Chances are you’re very much into what you’re working on. Chances are you might take things for granted that someone who hears about the project for the first time does not understand at all, things that immediately skews their notion of what your project is about and what it could become in the future. Clarity and brewity will help you no end, but only if that clarity and brewity express what your project is really about. So work on the pitch – the elevator pitch, the three-minute-pitch, the sales pitch and the rest – so that you can explain it to anyone, clearly and immersively, in a short period of time. Anticipate follow-up questions and have your answers ready.
- Stay realistic. It’s impressive how highly people think of themselves and their projects and their eventual impact on peoples’ lives. Just look at yourself, and how very seldom you actually immerse yourself in something – and how many other things there are that are constantly vying for your attention. Realism is having ambitious goals, but also noting all the things that are needed to come to pass for you to reach those goals and what amount of work and sweat and blood and tears are needed to achieve those things. Realism will help you not lose heart when you hit an uphill struggle, and will help you talk to partners and backers without running the risk of facing accusations of naivety.
- Strive for financial sustainability. There is no shame in asking people (or brands or organizations) for money in exchange for the experience you offer them. It doesn’t make your project any less worthy, but it can help you get funds and traction to be able to create your next project, and the next after that. But you need to think hard about what you’re offering your audience. Will it be worth not only their precious time, but also their hard-earned cash? You know what’s in it for you, but what’s in it for them? Have a clear and convincing and realistic answer to that, and you’ll have a much easier time reaching an audience, garnering revenue and attracting partners.