Remember the feeling you had when you first heard that idea?

They say you only have one chance to make a first impression. True, but I would add that you only have one chance to remember a first impression.

I believe ideas are energy. The more energy they generate, in the form of emotion in the individual perceiving it, the more potently the idea will perform in the marketplace. And any idea’s energy is at its pique when it’s first consumed by someone. Once that moment – the idea’s “first impression” – passes, it’s all down hill from there. The idea doesn’t get any less good. We just forget how great we felt when we first heard it.

So, when I present Ideasicle ideas to clients, I’ll do my normal set up before getting to the ideas. I’ll review the New Idea Brief, explain how we approached the assignment, and review a few other details about the project. Then, right before the first idea is revealed, I’ll suggest that they write down exactly how they feel about each idea after hearing me describe it. Not what they think of the idea, but how the idea makes them feel.

That is the idea’s first impression. And here’s why it’s so difficult for clients to remember. It’s not their fault.

The color in the idea can fade over time.

It’s no one’s fault, in fact. It’s just human nature at work. If we present 12 ideas to an Ideasicle client, the client generally will take their favorite 4-6 and represent those to others in the organization. They’ll post our idea pages on the wall, play them out in their heads. All smart things to do. However, with each review of the idea, the color in the idea fades in the clients’ minds. It’s not unlike a great song played too many times on the radio. By the time the idea hits the marketplace, a client may already be sick of it!

It’s at this critical moment that ideas get tweaked, reworked, over thought and over written for all the wrong reasons. Unfortunately, these reasons have more to do with the client wishing to re-manufacture the energy of that “first-impression feeling” than making the idea better suited for the unwitting marketplace. And it’s not just clients. Creative people, account people, planners, everybody does it.

What we all need to remember is that, even after all the presentations, reviews and meetings, there’s a wildly more important audience out there still awaiting the idea’s fresh, energy-filled first impression: the marketplace. And chances are the marketplace will feel the same way you did when you first heard the idea. Better, even, since the idea will have been wonderfully produced.

Make an impression of your first impression.

In your next idea presentation, write down how the ideas make you feel when you first hear them. And use emotional words, positive or negative: excited, proud, embarrassed, touched, ambivalent, pumped, deflated, scared, etc. Three words per idea will do it.

Later, when you start losing that loving feeling for the idea, you can go back into your notes and at least attempt to recapture the energy of the idea’s all-important first impression.

The impression it only had one chance to make.

And the one that the marketplace will never have if we’re not careful.


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