A buddy of mine has great ideas rolling around his head.
Last week he sent me an idea for a documentary. The story of legalizing Weed in Washington.
I thought about it for a bit and encouraged him to go for it. As I thought about it more and more, the idea grew on me. I want to watch it myself. I asked whether it was something he saw or something he wanted to do. He said it was an idea he had.
I liked it, so I decided to help.
How do I make it a reality right now?
First thing we need is demand.
I could research the subject online using Google's tools. Too long. We needed to start building the email list of interested people right away. We could poll those people as we made the documentary.
This meant one thing. A landing page with a signup form.
I booted up Unbounce.com. Thoughts of stuff I read ran through my head. Good headlines, conversion rates, best practices, good copy.
Then I remembered the founders of Rap Genius and their motto that "Worse is Better". They focused on building something bad, putting it out, then improving. Now they've got $16.8 million in investor backing. They were on to something.
So I picked any random template. I wanted something simple and easy to fill out.
I picked one and started typing in the title. I wrote something about Marijuana. Then I wrote a short description and tried to capture my own interest in the subject.
I deleted most of the stuff in the template. Useless fluff. It just needed a brief description and a place to sign up.
Looking back at the copy right now, I spot 3 problems with it already. It's too long, it's not attention-grabbing, and doesn't pique interest enough. All stuff that can be tested.
But first, we need to develop the foundational idea.
I made the form, fixed the URL, and published it.
I didn't care for pictures. Useless fluff in the way of getting something out there.
After publishing, I connected my Mailchimp account (get one right now). We both tested the signup form. It worked flawlessly.
The thank you screen is still pretty bland. Again, useless fluff to anyone interested in following developments.
This is the #Execute mindset. No more to do lists. You have an idea, prioritize the most pressing need to get the ball rolling, and build the smallest possible solution for it.
No need to mess with URL's. No need to pay for hosting. No need for any film. Just the idea on a shareable page with a signup form. We need interested people who we can test and iterate the film with.
Click here for the current version.
Of course, that wasn't all...
That Saturday, we hopped onto a Google hangout to chat more in depth about what we needed to accomplish. Kulmeet shared his vision of a documentary that told the story of how weed became legalized in WA. He wanted to create a framework for other states to emulate. I shared my vision of the best documentary out there that served as a platform for any type of legal reform.
Regardless of what the end vision looked like, we needed to get some work done before hand.
I shared the learnings from listening to 4 Hour Chef by Tim Ferris. In the book, Tim describes his technique for creating the best cookbook out there.
He started by reviewing the best cookbooks on the market, and looking at all the 3-4 star reviews, since those tend to be the most detailed. Then he read through the most highlighted parts of those books on the Kindle. He collected all his findings into spreadsheets so he had a unified place to organize all his research. This way, he could do in depth research, find the missing pieces from other books, and create the best cookbook out there.
We needed to implement a similar strategy.
I opened up Google Docs and got a spreadsheet going. I wondered what information we needed first. I made a few columns for the names of other documentaries, their location, total views, and a place to leave insights.
I immediately realized it wasn't enough.
We needed sheets to separate the documentaries we encountered.
So I created separate sheets for each documentary. The main sheet served as the index of all documentaries.
Then I created separate sheets for more research on each title we looked into.
These two sheets got us off to a good start. We started filling in the spreadsheet. It forced us to ask questions about what made other documentaries good, what people loved about them, and how we could differentiate our own product.
It's far from complete. But it's a start. And sometimes a start is all you need.
How can you start today?