You Could Be The Next Star!

I just received an email announcing that Simon Cowell, that sinister former American Idol judge that everyone loves to hate, is launching a new singing competition show called The X Factor (don't ask me how I got on that mailing list). This time, would-be pop stars of any age will compete for a $5 Million contract with Sony.

So, same old game, bigger pay day.

Is there still that much pent-up demand to be instantly famous? Maybe that's why our economy sucks so bad-- the millennials that should be gearing up to build the next tomorrow are too busy hanging out in audition holding rooms trying to look good in distressed designer jeans, spiky hair, doing their best Justin Bieber impersonation (wow, I sound old when I talk like that).

I'm SOOOOO over American Idol, but I have to admit the paradigm is brilliant:

  • Invite customers to create the product. This is the crux of the show-- you invite people to present their proposal for for a new product idea. In the case of Idol, that proposal is in the form of an audition.

  • Select a panel of experts to vet the product ideas. This is the early stages of Idol when the judges decide who advances and who gets sent home. It doesn't hurt when the judges have quirky personas themselves.

  • Recycle the leftovers, and sometimes the rejects become the main thing. Idol does this brilliantly. They take the best of the worst auditions and turns them into compelling content. Remember William Hung? "She bangs, she bangs...oh, baby, and she moves, she moves!"

  • Let the customers design and shape the final product. Once the contestants have been narrowed down, the viewers at home get to decide who will be the next star. This is customer-driven innovation at its finest!

  • Create a pent-up demand for the product before it is even released. By voting for their favorites, and helping to create the new star of American Idol, the people at home become vested in the product they've helped to shape and line up at the record store (or I guess iTunes), to purchase the album the minute it is released. Apple does this too-- iPhone 7 is coming in 2014-- are you ready?

So, although I think Simon's next show is going to lay an egg like Duets, and his other post-Idol start-ups, I do think there is life to the American Idol paradigm. Think about how you can engage your customers and donors in helping to shape your next program, project, or ministry. Follow the American Idol model and "who knows-- you could be the next big star!"


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