Archive for August, 2007

Prioritizing Your Target Market Niches

Written by Francis Adanza. Posted in Events

Tuesday of this week I attended an online workshop hosted by Cheryl Downing, founder of Cheryl Downing and Associates. The topic of the workshop was “Prioritizing Your Target Market Niches.”

From the workshop I learned:

1. Why you should select your top 3 target market niches
2. Why to focus on the top 3 characteristics of each niche
3. How to prioritize your market niches

It is important to select what you believe are your primary markets because most offerings really have more than one niche. Additionally, the different niches have a common thread which ties them together. Choosing three niches gives you flexibility in case one niche is not profitable and it provides room to make mistakes. In the early market, companies are trying to figure out what is and what is not working. Thus the importance of exploring and testing markets simultaneously.

After you choose your three niches, you want to find three characteristics within each market. Ideally, you want these categories to have as many characteristics as possible in common. Using these characteristics as a guideline will help you identify prospects faster.

Now that you have identified the characteristics of each niche market you want to prioritize them in order of which you believe you are solving the most compelling pain. This is the market in which you want to delegate the most time. Cheryl suggests that 60% of your time should be focused in this market. Subsequently, she suggests that you should spend 30% of your time in the secondary and 10% of your time in your tertiary market niches.

Cheryl has also blogged about this topic in “Prioritizing Your Target Market Niches.”

Another Perspective on Paul Saffo’s Talk Aug 28

Written by Francis Adanza. Posted in Events

Two days ago I attended the Churchill Club breakfast presentation featuring Paul Saffo. It was a very insightful and thought provoking talk that revolved around his Harvard Business Review article “Six Rules for Effective Forecasting.” From his talk I took away three points

  1. You can’t predict the future!
  2. I don’t care if it succeeds or fails. What does it mean?
  3. It takes 20 years to become an overnight success…

You can’t predict the future!
In the talk, Saffo explained that you will never have 100% of the information. The best you can do is collect as much data as quickly as possible and then systematically prove yourself wrong until you are left with enough information to make an educated decision. Paul recommends that one should use his six rules as a tool to help make good forecasts.

In our experience in working with startups, small teams face this challenge everyday. Since resources are limited, the ability to collect and analyze data effectively in a short period of time, is a necessity for founding teams. There will always be uncertainty in every decision, but if you wait until you have all of the data it is usually too late and you missed the opportunity.

I don’t care if it succeeds or fails. What does it mean?
There are a thousand and one great ideas, cool inventions, and incredible breakthroughs. Saffo does not care about whether or not it works, but what are the indicators that are driving the thought process. Saffo actually brought in a prototype for a $99 laptop. His point was it didn’t matter whether the particular implementation succeeded or failed, it was an indicator that meant the industry will develop a low cost product that will end up in the 80% of households that don’t currently own a PC.

It takes 20 years to become an overnight success…
Saffo states, change rarely unfolds in a straight line. The most important developments typically follow the S-curve shape of a power law: Change starts slowly and incrementally, putters along quietly, and then suddenly explodes, eventually tapering off and even dropping back down.

Saffo’s example: the Internet. It was almost 20 years old in 1988, the year that it began its dramatic run-up to the 1990’s dot-com eruption. So having identified the origins and shape of the left-hand side of the S curve, you are always safer betting that events will unfold slowly than concluding that a sudden shift is in the wind.

Paul Saffo on Forecasting Innovation in Silicon Valley

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Events, skmurphy

Paul Saffo came to the Churchill Club for breakfast and went beyond his HBR article “Six Rules for Effective Forecasting” to address forecasting innovation in the context of Silicon Valley. Currently on sabbatical from his day job at the Institute for the Future and teaching at Stanford, Saffo quipped that a well executed sabbatical required the same commitment as entering the federal witness protection program if you really wanted to get something new done: “you have to change your e-mail, your phone number, and never set foot in the office until you are ready to come back to work full time.”

He took pains to characterize himself as a forecaster or “professional bystander” and not a futurist or “advocate for a particular future.” He had to recover the lost art of speaking-without-PowerPoint since the Churchill Club folks told him it wasn’t allowed. He drew some compelling word pictures but it was ironic that we were in a nice big room at Fenwick where a rear projection screen covered the wall behind him–albeit partially obscured by two portable Churchill Club banners.

The interesting part of the S curve is the twenty years before the inflection point (“take-off point”), the real long tail is the twenty years it takes to be an overnight success. In Silicon valley the civilians are surprised only once. Nothing new ever works, which matches their expectations, but when it finally does they are surprised. Most technologists are surprised twice. They stand at the dawn of a new technology and underestimate how long it will take to succeed, become despondent close the inflection point and move on to something else, at which point they underestimate the pervasiveness of the diffusion.

Most things fail. Silicon Valley is built on the rubble of early failure. The Valley knows how to fail. If you were here for the dotcom crash you understand why we did better than Wall Street in 1929, their buildings were 40 stories tall looking out onto city streets, ours are two stories tall surrounded by grass; the worst we could do was sprain an ankle in the fall and have to hobble home.

If you want short term success look for something that’s been failing for 20 years. I spend my time looking for prodromes, early indicators of significant changes, and listening for the “doppler shift whistle” that things are about to take off.

Saffo brought two examples of early TV remote controls, one that was essentially a flashlight, and another that played tones and made the observation that the question to ask is not “will these succeed” or “why didn’t these succeed” but “what does this mean.” He also brought in one of the $100 laptops built by Nicholas Negroponte’s group: even though it may not succeed it has triggered a cascade of competitors who want to build a $99 laptop with different hardware and software. 80% of the world doesn’t own a PC so the market is there.

Silicon Valley can design products that can be “re-invented by consumers.”

By which I think he means that we design for end user customization as a source of differentiation. He also brought a device made by Faber-Castell that was an electronic calculator with a slide rule on the back and observed

“most people looking at this today misunderstand what was going on with this, the slide rule was there for functions that were too complex for the level of sophistication that early silicon chips could support. More importantly, slides rules continued to be used by the engineers and other professionals that knew how to use them, but they remained very complicated to learn and operate accurately. Calculators replaced pencils and paper: they were used by regular people who far outnumbered the experts, so the market was much bigger. And since calculators were based on silicon chips, the cost advantage went to the semiconductor companies not the existing slide rule firms.”

He had one very provocative observation.

“Analytical forecasting methods are now getting robust enough to effectively complement the primarily intuitive techniques that most forecasters have relied upon to date. The Singapore military establishment has developed “horizon scanning” technology that has allowed them to anticipate and neutralize a number of incipient threats.”

He may have been referring to the SenseMaker software developed by Dave Snowden of Cognitive Edge. Snowden and Valdis Krebs were on a recent call sponsored by Plexus Institute, a summary follows:

SenseMaker – Software supported by methods and an international network for managing uncertain and complex environments.

The ideas behind the software originated in knowledge management, the work of Cognitive Edge in the use of narrative and in understanding the basic patterns through which human beings make decisions….We will always know more than we can tell and we will always tell more than we can write.

The development has been funded by the US and Singapore governments in the context of risk assessment, horizon scanning and the detection of weak signals. A basic assumption of applications of the software is that there is little difference, from an organizational point of view, between a terrorist, an ordinary citizen, an employee or a customer. They all represent the problem of asymmetry, in which an organization has to understand multiple interactions and decisions from large populations which cannot be predicted or controlled by that organization.

The software and linked methods allow a collection of multiple sense making items, which can be anecdotes, web sites, pictures, or blogs. They can be tagged, or labeled, to provide sophisticated metadata. This data is combined with visualization tools linked with methods and models that permit users to sense complex patterns and anomalies that would not be otherwise visible. It is a “pre-hypothesis low-cost research tool, a knowledge repository, and a decision support system” in one package.

This is one of the few software systems built on the basis of natural science rather than management science. It is designed to accompany, not replace, human decision making. “it enables serendipitous un-biased encounters with data in the context of need.”

  • This is designed to enable a symbiosis of machine and human decision making.
  • It enables a quantitative approach to motivations and others issues that have traditionally been handled by qualitative approaches.
  • It provides for “identity marketing” and “ethical and cultural auditing.”
  • It is based on complex adaptive systems theory and an understanding of non-causal, unpredictable systems.

A couple of quick observations. Saffo was careful to point out the he did “real work for real clients who want real answers” and I was left with the impression that they like a nice single narrative. His cone of uncertainly model seems to unfold around a single trend, or one trend giving way to another (television creates broadcast media, time sharing creates e-mail as a media, client-server computing erects the World Wide Web on the wreckage of a billion dollars wasted on interactive television, and sensor networks create smartifacts or blobjects that are the next generation media). His article works within Thomas Kuhn’s “paradigm shift” model where a single dominant paradigm in a field of science gives way to a new one based on accumulating evidence and the death of older scientists who clung to the old theory.

But I think an approach based on “analysis of competing hypotheses” (ACH) might be a stronger platform, especially when it comes to technology markets which may have multiple segments served by multiple competing technologies. In other words, instead of thinking is the present giving way to this new technology, you could look for multiple trends that are reinforcing and competing for resources in different markets. For example, in the “Gunfire at Sea” chapter of “Men, Machines and Modern Times” by Elton Morrison makes the point that the modern naval gunnery was enabled by the intersection of metallurgy advances that could build longer strong gun barrels giving improved range, improved optics so that you could see and range find what you were aiming at since it was a mile or more away, an elevating gear to compensate for the rolling motion of the deck.

Together these three inventions enabled a continuous aim firing method that saw 175x increase in the rate of effective fire in 6 years”

After twenty-five minutes of banging away, two hits had been made on the sails of the elderly vessel. Six years later one naval gunner made fifteen hits in one minute at a target 75 by 25 feet at the same range–1600 yards; half of them hit in a bull’s eye 50 inches square.

It was a great talk and there were a number of excellent questions from the audience. When Churchill Club puts up the audio I will update this with a pointer.

September Bootstrapper Breakfasts

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in skmurphy

This month we continue our regular schedule of “first Friday” in Palo Alto and “third Tuesday” in Sunnyvale. We will start at 7:30am and end at 9am. Your cost is your meal + 20% tip; in each location we have a small back room to ourselves. Attendees are typically in early stage software startups, primarily founders, with some consultants who plan to develop products. The promise is serious conversation and a chance to compare notes on operations, development, and business issues with peers.

Please pre-register as we can only fit 15 (these are small back rooms): you don’t want get up this early and be turned away because we are full. The SKMurphy team facilitate the conversation–and from time to time put our own issues on the table. We don’t make a sales pitch of any kind. Consultants are welcome if you are consulting on the way to developing a product or plan to add products to your offering mix.

We have been facilitating this breakfasts since October of 2006. We started at Coco’s and branched out to a second meeting a month in Palo Alto in January of this year to meet increased demand.

Update Dec 11: The Bootstrapper Breakfast website is now up.

3 Tips for Choosing a Logo

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Consulting Business, Rules of Thumb, Startups

  1. Text Treatments: text logos are simple, the company name is always right there. Most high tech logos are text treatments, they are clear and simple. With text logos you have instant impact, customers don’t need to decipher anything. Another benefit of text treatments are logo aspect ratio comes naturally with words. They always seem to work whether you are shrinking or stretching them. Examples are Google, IBM, Intel, and eBay.
  2. Icons: symbol logos can be recognized faster, our brains process images quickly than words alone. But they require more  work and $$$ on branding and presence before people have the connection between symbol and company. Examples are Nike‘s swoosh, Apple‘s apple and Linux‘s penguin. Notice these logos have nothing to do with the companies product: they are about being different and being memorable. They are also very simple designs.
  3. Keep it Simple:  like many other types of design, the best logo designs are elegantly simple. They shrink, stretch, or twist without losing their intangible emotional resonance. Color may add to the design, but they still look great in black and white. In fact, most logo designers use grayscales to do the initial design, then move it to color. They have to look good on your business card, on literature, and on your website.

We’ve already blogged about how adding a logo to your business cards and website improves your credibility (and makes you more memorable), we used logoworks  and were very pleased with the results.

FSA Panel on Fostering, Funding and Focusing on the Future of Innovation

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in EDA, Events, skmurphy

I attended today’s Fabless Semiconductor Association Distinguished Speaker Series Luncheon Panel on “Fostering, Funding and Focusing on the Future of Innovation.” It was time well spent. It was moderated by Brian Fuller, the former Editor-in-Chief of EE Times, and now a VP with Blanc & Otus.

Brian opened with an analogy between the US railroad industry before and after the first transcontinental connection was completed in 1869. Considered the greatest US technological feat of the 19th century, the railroads’ focus shifted from engineering to operations and marketing. It was a panel with deep experience in the industry.

The economics of a new (fabless) semiconductor startup (note that integrated semiconductor fabrication operations are the province of a few major players, these days fabs are funded by governments) requires tens of millions of dollars of risk capital to reach a break-even operation level. A mask set alone may set you back between two and three million dollars. New ventures are the province of serious folks with deep experience, as Chris Rust remarked of other VC firms that had shifted new investment focus away from semiconductors “the tourists have gone home.” It’s a very different proposition from starting a software company, although EDA is more challenging than Web 2.0.

Getting More Customers Workshop Offered Sep-9-2007

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Consulting Business, Events, skmurphy

We are offering our “Getting More Customers” workshop this fall in collaboration with the Professional and Technical Consultants Association (PATCA). The workshop covers ten proven marketing techniques for growing your business: attendees will select one or two that fit their style and develop a plan to implement them in their business in the next 90 days. As a part of your workshop registration, we will also follow up via e-mail and brief phone calls at two weeks, four weeks, 8 weeks, and 13 weeks to help you track your progress. You will leave with a one page action plan, a workbook, and 90 days of access to a private workspace with the workshop materials to enable you to execute one or two marketing strategies to bring your business more customers.

The techniques covered are appropriate for professional and technical consultants and early stage software firms. This is a real workshop that has about two hours of presentation and two hours of individual and small group exercises. Past workshop attendees have been pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t just a sales pitch for our services but an actual working session where they are able to learn about some proven techniques and then develop a plan to use one or two in their business starting immediately. We also include breakfast and lunch breakout sessions to give attendees a chance to network informally and de-brief on what they have learned.

This will be the third and final time we will offer this workshop in 2007. Our full workshop schedule is here:
Date: Saturday, Sept 8, 2007 8:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Location: Keypoint Credit Union Center, 2805 Bowers Ave., Santa Clara, CA 95051
Cost: $75 PATCA members, $95 non-members, $95 guest of member
Register here


  • 8:00 AM Breakfast & Registration
  • 8:30 AM Workshop begins
  • 12:30 PM Lunch & De-brief

Seating is Limited to 18 so please register in advance

By the Numbers: How I built a Web 2.0, User-Generated Content, Citizen Journalism, Long-Tail, Social Media Site for $12,107.09

Written by Francis Adanza. Posted in Events, Founder Story, skmurphy

Last night I attended a BayChi event held at the PARC auditorium. This presentation featured Guy Kawasaki, Founder of Truemors and Managing Director at Garage Technology Ventures. His presentation was titled “By the Numbers: How I built a Web 2.0, User-Generated Content, Citizen Journalism, Long-Tail, Social Media Site for $12,107.09.

You can find the entire PowerPoint slide deck on Guy’s blog.

Since Guy is such a great entertainer, I could not tell if it was just his sarcastic humor or if he was sincere when he said he had no plan when putting this website together. In addition, I was shocked to hear a renowned marketer claim to have spent $0 dollars on marketing. However, his reasoning behind this dollar figure was, so far money has not been necessary. For twenty-four years, Guy Kawasaki has been building relationships, evangelizing, public speaking, and doing favors for others. It took him half his life to become a Silicon Valley icon and now he is trying to cash in on it. He has built up enough branding of his own name, that the fact that he is starting a company is selling itself.

Guy claimed that the website is a place to post comments (rumors) to share real time up to the second information with others. Although there seems to be a wide array of useful information, it seems like most users find the technology to be a convenient way to post jokes and tabloid worthy current events. The website was developed on WordPress making it easy to blog. However, the posts do not seem like true blogs but more like simple pointers to other blogs or websites. In the short time I spent navigating the website, it seemed like most of the posts were vanilla cut and paste excerpts from the original source.

Questions & Answers

Guy spent about 40 minutes answering questions from the audience. Here are my notes on his three most memorable answers.

1. Why do you believe it is a good time for entrepreneurs?

It is so cheap to develop software these days. Look, I did it for 12k and I was not even penny pinching. If you are a developer, you probably could have done it for the cost of the legal fees. If you really wanted to be cheap you could have thrown something together and incorporated after you got traction. Since the dot com meltdown, investors have become much more conservative: we fund acceleration for the most part, not development.

Ideas do not build companies, execution is what builds companies. There are way more good ideas than people who can actually execute on them. We can’t bear the risk of funding an idea. We want to fund a company that needs help scaling and accelerating growth. This is better for entrepreneurs because they can work out all of the kinks in the product and the business. This way when you deserve investment, you get to keep more of the company.

2. What if you have a great idea that can change the world, but you can’t find the money to make it happen?

Honestly, in today’s world with all the resources available, if money is the only thing holding you back you probably are not going to be successful anyways. Look how Jobs and Gates made it happen. They both stole research out of here (PARC) and each created their own operating system. They worked out of their garage and coded on used worn down computers.

Being an entrepreneur is not making an even playing field. You need to find ways to tilt the field in your favor. Beg, borrow, steal, so be it. Part of being an entrepreneur is convincing others to buy into your concept. If your family and friends don’t believe in you, the chances that an investor will are slim.

3. How important do you think it is to have patents?

Patents mean nothing. They are only good for litigation purposes or to add value to the company when you get acquired. As a startup you don’t have to worry about either of these issues unless you are successful. Then if you are successful, you will have enough money anyways. So again it does not matter if you get sued or the company is valued for a few million more dollars.

Paul Saffo at Churchill Club Breakfast Tue Aug 28

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Events, Rules of Thumb, skmurphy

The goal of forecasting is not to predict the future but to tell you what you need to know to take meaningful action in the present.” Paul Saffo

Paul Saffo is speaking at a Churchill Club Breakfast on Tue Aug 28 7:30am to 9am at Fenwick ( 801 California Street, Mountain View, CA 94041) on “Forecasting the Future to Make Better Decisions in the Present.” 

Some Great Quotes Collected by Tim O’Reilly

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

Tim O’Reilly had a great post yesterday, “Surprises on the Bookshelves of CEOs” that also included quotes for entrepreneurs that he has collected over the years. Three great quotes that I hadn’t seen before that I found thought provoking were:

“Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”
Vaclav Havel

“It is well to remember that the entire universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others.”
John Andrew Holmes

“History is a wave that moves through time slightly faster than we do.”
Kim Stanley Robinson

The Future Comes Up From Behind

This last one becomes clearer as one gets older. O’Reilly has used it in an earlier piece “Levels of the Game: The Hierarchy of Web 2.0 Apps” where he also discussed James Fallow’s experiment in using only Web 2.0 apps for a week. It reminds me of a longer passage from the afterward to the tenth anniversary edition of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig.

This book has a lot to say about Ancient Greek perspectives and their meaning but there is one perspective it misses. That is their view of time. They saw the future as something that came upon them from behind their backs with the past receding away before their eyes.

When you think about it, that’s a more accurate metaphor than our present one. Who really can face the future? All you can do is project from the past, even when the past shows that such projections are often wrong. And who really can forget the past? What else is there to know?

Ten years after the publication of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance the Ancient Greek perspective is certainly appropriate. What sort of future is coming up from behind I don’t really know. But the past, spread out ahead, dominates everything in sight.

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Understand, Believe, and Act

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Books, Consulting Business, Favorites, Startups

The sales process may seem like a simple exchange – you convince a prospect to accept your product or service in exchange for their money. However, there are a number of overlapping processes running to get you to that point.

A few thoughts about one of them: the process that prospects go through to decide if they are going to buy from you. Jerry Weissman has framed this as Understand, Believe, and Act.

First a prospect must understand what you have to offer. This is straightforward when your product is a better, faster, cheaper version. But this is much more difficult when it is an innovative technology. Demos and sales pitches become critical. We joke that “If you are looking for smarter prospects who will understand your offer, then maybe your demo sucks!” Sadly, this is often the case (we have even had to apply it to our pitches from time to time).

Presenting an innovative technology in a way that’s understandable to a prospect is never easy. The language, the problems, and why it is better must be grounded in the prospects world. If you give a prospect a feature list, some will be able to “get it”, but not many. To reach most prospects, you must start from a problem that they know they have, and offer a solution they can understand.

Secondly, prospects must believe that your innovative technology will actually deliver them the benefits you promise. New technology always brings risk. They may risk losing their job–or at least putting a “dent in their career”–if you don’t deliver! The first people who will trust you are folks with whom you already have a prior shared success. They know you can deliver. Usually these people are the source for your early sales. When your first clients say “I used it and it worked” to their friends they give you credibility. Eventually you must get to strangers referring other strangers to buy. Testimonials on your website are critical for prospects believing your claims. Testimonials, like your demo, must be in the language customers use and from people who are credible.

Only after they understand and believe will customers ever act. But they act on their own cycle, whether it’s a certain point in the product development process, a certain time of year, or a phase of the moon. It’s their timing! Your challenge is to make sure they remember your offering when they are looking for it. For this reason you need a method of reminding those people that you have a solution. We call this percolating. This is the function that applications like Salesforce provide: you can set up a sales campaign to remind you to contact everyone who is percolating every 6 weeks or so (or whenever they wanted to hear back from you next). Another method we have seen work well are newsletters. If you can help your prospect and send them something useful every 6 weeks, people will join the mailing list and remember you when they have a problem you can help them solve. Be there when they are ready to act.

3 Key Questions To Ask Yourself Before Taking a Job with a Startup

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in skmurphy, Startups

I got a call from someone who asked me “you work with a lot of startups, what should I think about before joining a startup?” I asked him to clarify if they were asking him to come on as a co-founder or an employee and he said that they had funding and were looking to hire him as an early employee. He wanted to understand what were the key questions he should be asking about “position, compensation, exit strategy, layoff chances?” It was his first startup and while he was excited by romance he wanted to know what the practical realities of the marriage might look like.

My answer was that these were the first three questions he needed to be able to answer before digging into finances etc..

  1. Do you like your boss and look forward to working for him?
  2. Do you like your team and look forward to working with them?
  3. Is the problem the firm is solving for it’s customers compelling for you to work on.

I advised him that these questions are no different than ones I would ask for any job. Picking who to found a company with probably changes #1 to “Have you worked with this person before and do you have confidence in his integrity and ability to deliver?” But I think two and three are the same. I told him that on a statistical basis the probability that you will get rich is very low, so make sure you are going to learn something, working with and for people you like and respect, and that the problem you are helping to solve is compelling for you.

Guy Kawasaki To Tell Truemors Story at Bay Chi Tue Aug 14

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Events, skmurphy

August, normally a vacation month, is host this year to a number of compelling events for entrepreneurs.

Guy Kawasaki is speaking at BayChi Tue Aug 14 7-9pm on “By the Numbers: How I built a Web 2.0, User-Generated Content, Citizen Journalism, Long-Tail, Social Media Site for $12,107.09” where he will explain why and how he launched using open-source software, contractors, favors, and cajoling. He will also cover the current entrepreneurial and venture-capital funding conditions. Guy has blogged about the launch of Truemors.
There is an optional dinner at 5:30 in Palo Alto at Kan Zeman Restaurant on 274 University Avenue, there is no charge for the event but dinner attendees must pay cash for meal+tax+tip.

Expect a full report, Francis and I plan to attend.

Jerry Weissman On Persuasion: Getting From Point A to Point B In Your Presentation

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Books, Consulting Business, skmurphy, Startups

I wrote earlier in “Kierkegaard On the Art of Helping Others To Understand” about the need to understand where what Jerry Weissman calls “Point A” is for a prospect. Here is an excerpt from his book “Presenting to Win: The Art of Telling Your Story” (pages 6-7, emphasis in original) on persuasion.

Persuasion: Getting From Point A to Point B

All presentation situations have one element in common.

Whether it’s a formal presentation, speech, sales pitch, seminar, jury summation, or a pep talk, every communication has as its goal to take the audience from where they are at the start of your presentation, which is Point A, and move them to your objective, which is Point B. This dynamic shift is persuasion.


In psychological terms, Point A is the inert place where your audience starts: uninformed, knowing little about you and your business; dubious, skeptical about your business and ready to question your claims; or in the worst-case scenario, resistant, mentally committed to a position contrary to what you’re asking them to do.

What you are asking them to do is Point B. The precise nature of Point B depends upon the particular persuasive situation you face. To reach Point B, you need to move the uninformed audience to understand, the dubious audience to believe, and the resistant audience to act in a particular way. In fact, understand, believe, and act are not three separate goals, but three stages in reaching a single, cumulative, ultimate goal. After all, the audience will not act as you want them to act if they don’t first understand your story and believe the message it conveys.

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