Does your idea solve a problem people care about?

yuppieI knew someone a few years ago who told me a great story about when he was the Marketing Director at one of the early UK Mobile telephone companies.

It was actually a rather surprising story about how initially people didn’t want mobile phones.

Mobile phones allowed us to make phone calls when on the move but the vast majority of us didn’t have a “making phone calls on the move problem” so on the whole we didn’t buy the technology. In his words “the early adopters were Yuppies and drug dealers, and because no-one else wanted to look like a Yuppie or drug dealer, it wasn’t taking off”.

There’s an important lesson here, which is however brilliant the idea is, if it doesn’t solve a problem that people acknowledge and want to solve, they don’t adopt it.

[ezcol_1half][soundcloud url=”″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”116″ iframe=”true” /][/ezcol_1half] [ezcol_1half_end]He then went on to tell the story about how they turned things around and it was with one advert (I can vaguely remember it) where they created a scenario of a young woman alone in a broken down car in a dark country road and using her mobile phone to call for help.[/ezcol_1half_end]

Again the lesson here is that we might not have felt we had a “making phone calls on the move problem”, but we almost certainly had a “keep our loved ones safe problem”. The reason why this story resonated with me so much is that I remember buying my then girlfriend a mobile phone for her to use in such a scenario.

It’s not enough to have a cool idea or technology that solves and obvious problem, this is where most good ideas fail. You also need to understand who cares enough about solving the problem that they will adopt or invest in your idea.