In the Internet Marketing for Smart People radio show finale to season one, Brian refers to “Kevin Costner Syndrome”, a condition that affects a number of bloggers, marketers, and entrepreneurs.
If you saw Costner’s 1989 blockbuster “Field of Dreams,” you remember the line from the film:
If you build it, they will come.
It was heartwarming and inspirational in the movie. It can destroy you as an online marketer.
You’ve been told that if you start blogging and “join the conversation,” your appreciative audience will be magically drawn to you.
Some people blogging for business are still waiting for “them” to come.
Silly people. Good thing we’d never fall for that … We know better. Right?
Eh … maybe not.
Many of us who read Copyblogger are chasing dreams of our own right now. We’re building it because we believe they will come.
We just know they’ll come. Tired as we are, we don’t understand why our dreams aren’t getting the attention they deserve.
If this sounds like you, it’s possible that you have Kevin Costner Syndrome (KCS), too.
KCS eats your dreams for breakfast
Entrepreneurs are easily enchanted by the “Field of Dreams” story.
We love the idea that our dreams are premonitions of unstoppable events.
On its own, KCS can be an incredible asset for an entrepreneur. It can give us the faith we need to pull through the darkest days of our journey. However, it also makes us vulnerable to misleading direction.
Planting voices that masquerade as our own is resistance’s specialty, so how do you know whether your calling is pure?
Easy. Just answer this simple question:
What is your ball field?
In other words, what’s the grand attraction that will draw those appreciative crowds?
Was your answer printed books, e-books, recorded audio, recorded video, websites, consulting packages, a service, or some other thing you can hold in your hand?
If so, it can only mean one thing: you’ve been had.
Instead of building the best ball field you could, you spent too much time getting the best deal on screws for the bleachers and controversy-free chalk for the lines.
You were so focused on painting the concession stand (twice, because you didn’t like the color the first time) that you forgot to order the lights. You needed the light, so you put out some floor lamps and had friends hold up flashlights for as long as their arms could handle.
You’ve been so busy focusing on the logistics, you missed the message.
Save your dream from Costner’s death grip
Don’t let KCS ruin your life.
Every legendary entrepreneur has a few busted ball fields in his or her history, and they went on to do amazing things.
You can too, if you properly manage your condition.
KCS is easily managed by understanding two critical truths:
- Your ball field is not your various products
- Your ball field is your core message
Things like books or consulting hours are nothing more than media for your message, often referred to as your Unique Selling Proposition. It’s the positioning statement that transmits the emotional content required to draw them to your product or service.
The message doesn’t tell your story — it’s the takeaway you build your story around. If you’ve been building your ball field with a message that’s about people giving you money, you’re not going to be as intriguing as a would-be competitor who’s been building her customer-focused USP.
Your message is the driving force behind the vehicles you select (like websites, books, consulting packages, and so on). Without it, you’re lacking a magnet for the masses. Polish it to address a proven need and you’re ripe for a home run.
But what if your core message is still unclear to you?
Consider flipping it…
If you build them, it will come
Instead of continuing to throw products down an empty hall, consider taking a break for a moment … just sit back and listen.
Focus on the people you want to work with and observe them in action. Learn what they care about and what makes them tick.
When you’re building relationships, you find out what your friends and associates want and need. They tell you. You just need to listen and be ready to make yourself useful.
Try on a message or two and see how they fit.
You’ll know when it’s right — your legions of customers will tell you.
Just be patient. Be observant. And whatever you do, don’t stop believin’ …