News Leadership 3.0

May 17, 2009

Entrepreneurs: Be humble egomaniacs

Mary Lou Fulton offers product development ideas at KDMC boot camp

Online innovator Mary Lou Fulton describes entrepreneurship as “learning to be a humble egomaniac” because you’ve got to believe passionately in your project and be realistic in your expectations.

Fulton, the former Vice President for Audience Development at the Bakersfield Californian, offered tips for successful product development Sunday at KMDC’s News Entrepreneur Boot Camp, including:

A developer may fail to make a strong case for her idea because she focuses on the “what” of the project at the expense of the “why.” “Focus on the why. When you pitch the why is what’s going to get people,” Fulton said. Ask: What problems are you trying to solve? For whom (consumers or funders)? What are the benefits of solving these problems?

—“Great products solve problems and meet emotional needs,” so it’s critical to identify those needs in developing a product and seeking funding.

Examples of practical solutions:
Saves time
Saves money
Better than current solution
Keeps me informed
Customized for me
Better customer service

Examples of emotional benefits:
Makes me feel more competent or in control
Makes me feel smarter (or seem smarter)
Lets me show off and look cool!
Affirms my identity/makes me proud of who I am

Define your target audience. Defining factors might include: geography, shared interests, life stage, demographics, economic achievement or psychographics.

Pay attention to the business side. Journalists tend to come from the “creative side rather than the business or revenue side. “This often leads to over investment in time, money and technology on the product design and presentation and underinvestment in the revenue and marketing strategies.”

“Good ideas, often fail becuase of lack of attention to the business side of things.”

Fulton’s advice: Find a partner or hire someone who knows the money side.

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Exploring innovation, transformation and leadership in a new ecosystem of news, by journalist and change advocate Michele McLellan.

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