When it comes to Web Startups in this day and age, it seems we’ve all been approached by someone who ‘has this amazing idea that’s going to revolutionize the internet’ but turns out to just want to rip off youtube, facebook, twitter, etc.
A lot of the time someone will want to develop an idea that has had all the large details mapped out but none of the small details. Take a leaf out of 37signals book (literally) – it’s better to make half a product than a half-assed product. Especially now when you realistically only have one chance to capture someone on your site and keep them coming back. If they’re confused and don’t know exactly what your product/site offers, chances are they will forget about it and move on.
When someone approaches me with an idea (or rarely, if i come up with one myself) I like to think of it as a film. In the movies, films are sold purely on a tagline/strapline. This is a signal sentence that quickly explains roughly what you should expect. If someone asked you what ‘Alien‘ was like, you’d quickly be able to get across the idea by replying “think of it like Jaws in space”. This is known in business circles as a “high concept pitch“.
If you can grab someone’s attention in one sentence, you have a chance that they’ll be interested and therefore remember it. If you need a massive page of text and diagrams to get across a concept, then chances are that you’ll fail to get the public’s attention and therefore views/sales.
So next time someone comes to you with a great idea ask them to come up with a tagline for it – it doesn’t have to explain in great detail what your idea does, just get someone to ask another question about it.