You don’t have to be a baseball fan to know the 1989 movie “Field of Dreams,” starring Kevin Costner. If you’ve never seen it, here’s a pivotal moment:
The lead character (Costner), hears a voice when walking through his corn field and this voice says “If you build it, he will come”. Later he sees a vision of a baseball field. He builds the field and Shoeless Joe Jackson, a long dead professional baseball player, turns up and asks to play catch.
The quote has been adapted to a business setting, and changed into “If you build it, they will come,” meaning, if you build something people will automatically come to use it and pay for it.
If only it were that simple! Remember that when Noah had finished building his ark, no one but his family joined him (and a few animals, of course). Perhaps he should have advertised his big boat a bit better.
The phrase “If you build it, they will come” is part of what I call “magical thinking.” Like a lot of pseudo business advice, it’s so blatantly vague that it can mean anything to anybody. In order to make sense of it, you’d have to specify at least four things:
A: What do you mean by “it”?
B: How do you build “it”?
C: Who are “they”?
D: How will “they” come?
The answer to the first three questions is quite easy to figure out. Let’s assume “it” refers to your website, and you hire a web designer to build it for you. “They” are the clients you hope to attract. But A + B + C doesn’t mean D will happen, does it?
THEY WILL COME
Just because you created an Instagram account, doesn’t mean you’ll have hundreds, if not thousands of followers. Just because you self-published a book, doesn’t mean people will buy it. Just because you graduated from Juilliard, doesn’t guarantee people will want to pay to hear you play.
Two crucial elements are missing here.
First, you’ve got to give people specific and powerful REASONS as to why they would come to YOU and not to your competitor. In business that’s know as a Unique Value Proposition. In a very crowded field such as voice overs, that’s not an easy thing to do. Everybody has a home studio these days, and synthetic voices are more realistic than ever, much cheaper, and they don’t need any sleep.
Secondly, you’d have to find a compelling way to let people know you exists in the first place, and then entice them to come to you. If you’re not loud enough, no one will hear you. But how do you make people find your needle in a haystack?
Before you start building anything (and spend a ton of money in the process), these are the things you need to sort out. Here’s a subtle hint: you cannot do this on your own. You need experts to guide you and help you define who you are, and what game you’re playing.
You may build the best baseball field in the business, but if no one knows about it or cares about it, it is nothing but an expensive dream.