5 Ways to Track, Analyze, and Prioritize Your Ideas
I bet you've got some really good ideas for your business. I'd even bet that many of them are great ideas!
So, with so many, how do prioritize your ideas and know which ones to pursue, which ones to save for later, and which ideas deserve to be taken out back behind the shed and put down?
Nobody thinks they have bad ideas. I mean sure, we occasionally have an idea that's crazy, stupid, or obviously and hilariously bad, but other than those ideas, all of the rest are great!
However, it's often difficult to see which of our ideas will make us money and which ones won't. That's why the most successful people have a mastermind group with whom they can discuss their ideas and determine which ones will deliver results.
But, if you don't have a mastermind, here are five things you can do today to help you track, analyze, and prioritize your ideas so you can see the opportunity they hold, and figure out which one you should give your attention to.
5 Ways to Track, Analyze, and Prioritize Your Ideas
1: Focus on Your Goal
Suggesting that you begin with the end in mind might seem obvious, but I'm surprised by how many of my clients come to me with ideas that aren't in line with their overall goal. As an entrepreneur, your time is precious, and pursuing ideas that won't take you closer to achieving your goal doesn't make much sense.
When you have a clearly defined goal, you're able to judge every activity against whether or not that activity will get you closer to achieving it. If you have a list of ideas, begin by noting if each idea will get you closer or further from where you want to be in six, twelve, or eighteen months.
Figure out which stage of business you're in. While this stage could change by time of year, during a product launch, or a variety of other reasons, these stages are generally Acquisition, Activation, Monetization, Retention.
4 Stages of Business
- Acquisition is when you're acquiring new customers and leads, or when you're driving traffic to your website.
- Activation is when you're asking those leads to make purchases or take the action you want them to take.
- Monetization is developing new products, growing revenue, making sales, and closing contracts.
- Retention is how you interact with your customers after they've paid you money.
A couple of questions to ask yourself are:
- What stage of business am I in?
- What action do I want my customers to take?
- Am I trying to sell something, or is my goal to keep my brand in front of my audience?
- What will make the biggest impact the quickest?
2: Analyze the Opportunity
If you don't know what you have, you can't figure out what you need or want, right?
Ok, so profound! But this is where you can dive into your analytics and data.
Why do people leave your site? Why do they leave your store? Or, why do they choose to do business with someone else instead of you?
Then, once you've analyzed what you have, it's time to figure out how your great idea plays into it. Or, if it does at all. To analyze the quality of your idea and the opportunity that might come with it, here are a few things you can do.
First, do a S.W.O.T. Test; which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.
- Strengths are factors that increase your chances of success.
- Weaknesses are reasons your idea might fail – things like the economy, aggressive competition, timing, etc.
- Opportunities are the upside you might have if the idea works, and ways your idea could expand or lead to other things.
- Threats are events, people, competitors, technology, etc., that could prevent your idea from working.
After you've done the S.W.O.T. test, see if your idea has been done before. If it has, did it work? Could you do it better or different?
If your idea has been done, don't worry, that just means there might be a market for what you're trying to do. Are you in line with your industry; or are you going against common knowledge and practices?
Finally, ask yourself if your idea will be fun. If not, maybe shelve the idea and work on something else. Or, if the upside is enough, maybe working on something that's not fun for a short time might be worth it.
3: Brainstorm Alternatives
Now it's time to see how your idea stacks up in relation to how it will help you in whatever stage of business you're in. Some ideas will help you acquire new customers. Other ideas will help you maintain relationships with your existing clients and fall under retention strategies.
Acquisition ideas (from my own list) could include:
- testing different lead magnets, (Thrive Leads makes this easy) or
- testing layouts of homepages and/or
- testing landing pages (I use Thrive Landing Pages)
Activation ideas could include:
- new email series (autoresponders, automations), (ActiveCampaign makes split testing emails easy)
- testing coupons (BOGO, discounts, etc.),
- adding product videos to sales pages.
Monetization ideas include:
- new products and services,
- reaching out to cart abandons, (ActiveCampaign has this capability)
- split-testing pricing, or
- adding upsells and cross-sells as we discussed in February's Catalyst Monthly.
Retention ideas include:
- sending welcome-kits to new subscribers, new renters, or new clients,
- creating a “start here” email series, (See The Entrepreneur's Dictionary)
- calling new customers, or
- sending handwritten cards to clients.
The key through this step is to write down everything. Don't just your ideas yet. Bad ideas are the seeds for good ideas, so don't toss something out because you don't love it yet.
4: Prioritize & Score
Now that you have your ideas listed, categorized and analyzed, and brainstormed, it's time to get deliberate about determining which ideas to pursue and which ones to ditch.
A phrase I've started using with some of my clients is “I.C.E. it.” I.C.E. stands for Impact, Confidence, and Ease, and it's how you'll score and prioritize your ideas.
Score your ideas based on how much of an impact they'll have on your bottom line and/or on your business today.
Will they generate a lot of profit or a little? Will they keep customers coming back and increase the amount of money they'll spend with you?
For example, adding a premium service to your existing product catalog would be a high impact.
Score your ideas based on how confident you are that the idea will work. Are you confident that adding a new lead magnet or adding a new service will get you results?
For example, if you release a new product based on the suggestions and feedback of your existing customers, your confidence would be high.
Finally, score your idea based on how easy it would be for you or your team to implement it. Building a landing page would be easy for me, it might be difficult for you.
As an example, buying a third rental home might have a huge impact on your business. And, if you buy it in the right location, your confidence in the success of that home would be pretty high. However, the cost of a marketable home in a desirable market might be more money than you have, so it might not be easy to do.
Out of a possible 30 I.C.E. points (10 for each category), a buying a new rental home might get a 25. An idea with a score of 28 should be acted on before an idea with a score of 13.
5: Test & Experiment
After you've gone through this process with each idea, you should have a solid list of things to do to grow your business. Now it's time to test and experiment.
One of my goals and something you could use as well is to implement something we all learned in middle school science class – the scientific method.
With every idea, develop a hypothesis about what you expect to happen. Build your new product, service, landing page, whatever. Validate your work to see if everything is working properly and error free. Optimize with a variant to test effectiveness. Then either scale (because it worked), or abandon (because it didn't).
Finally, evaluate your idea objectively by asking if your efforts made the impact you'd hoped. If they did, were the results appropriate for the amount of time, effort, and energy you put in?
Unfortunately, I’ve had several projects that went well but ultimately didn’t provide results that were worth what I put into it.
Use your efforts to your advantage. As they saying goes, there is no such thing as bad press. If you tried something and it didn’t work (that’s ok!), then create some content around it. Say that you’re trying new things, trying to meet the needs of your customers, or doing everything you can to improve your products. You can be open, honest, transparent, and with the right messaging, your community will love it!
In the comments below, let me know if you use one of these strategies and see success!