What to do with your ideas for other people

Steve wrote me a note pointing out that as a marketer, he’s always coming up with groundbreaking ideas that can help large companies or other marketers. Should he just let them go? Try to sell them? Submit them to the company?

Another reader wrote in complaining about Apple’s insistence that they don’t want to know about your great ideas. They refuse to read them.

You’ve probably been asked to sign a formal NDA document–someone wants to tell you a big secret and you’re not allowed to tell anyone, at least not during this century.

It’s frustrating. You’ve got this great idea, but no one wants it, or they’re going to steal it.

Here’s the essential distinction: Selling ideas is a fundamentally different business than having ideas.

It’s like being a really fast runner but being unwilling to take a hit or unable to block. You may be fast, but you can’t play football. Two different skills are involved, and having one is insufficient. Remember, the selling is a business onto itself, not something that you do after you get a great idea.

If you want to sell ideas to organizations, you need to invest heavily in the skills and status to do that. The quality of ideas is not a factor in whether or not you will be in a position to have a chance to sell those ideas. (That sentence is shocking but true, so reread it).

If you’re unable to be in that position, my best advice is that you blog the ideas. At least you’ll get them out of your system and get bragging rights if anything ever happens.