CLOSAT Cards for Entrepreneurs

Blog Post | Jul 9th, 2021

I was doing some pre-writing research for my post on lateral thinking last night and (surprise!) I woke up this morning to the idea of transferring a screenwriting technique over to the entrepreneurship world.

This being the internet and all, of course I found one other post on a similar topic. Jason's piece suggests using CLOSAT cards when developing a marketing persona, and I absolutely think he's on to something. But, I believe we can ride this thought so much further.

For the uninitiated, CLOSAT is an acronym for:

  • Character
  • Location
  • Object
  • Situation
  • Action
  • Theme
When ideas come to mind

In screenwriting, CLOSAT cards are ordinary note cards marked up for the recording and easy access of ideas to be used as story elements. The idea is that, as a writer, you should carry some cards and a pen in your pocket and jot down an idea the moment it comes to you. Come up with an idea for a character? Put a C on the top of the card. An idea for a location? Put it on a notecard with L at the top. File them away somewhere and pull them out when you're writing and looking for ideas. There's probably an app for that by now, but I haven't checked.

We can do the same thing as entrepreneurs. As our marketing friend suggested, the first characters we should think of are buyer personas or members of a real or imagined audience. These people are our number one concern. After all, what good is any kind of offer or idea without a customer or audience? Thing is, we don't have to stop with customers. We can use CLOSAT cards to collect characteristics of non-customers, too.

Customers and beyond...

Who else, besides customers? A few ideas:

  • Salespeople. Who will genuinely reach our target?
  • Social media influencers
  • Non-social-media influencers... other people who influence the buyer, like family and friends (and enemies!)
  • Characters in advertising and media
  • Celebrity endorsers
  • People who receive gifts from other characters
  • Coworkers, managers, executives, and all other business staff who might have an opinion or some sway in a B2B transaction
Where were you on the night of the incident?

Moving on... as marketers we immediately think "location, location, location!" Product positioning is important. Where will our buyer most likely purchase an item we already have for sale? Or, in what ways is a particular location or location type under-served? Last I checked, ski lifts don't have vending machines offering hand warmers and hot chocolate. But maybe they should!

Imagine problems that arise in a particular location. This could be a general problem or you could narrow your options by matching the location with one of your Characters.

If serving anxious folks is part of your biz, try putting your character somewhere they might not want to be. Make a location card for "flimsy rope bridge crossing high above a ravine" for your character with a fear of heights and see what other ideas come to mind.

What was that thing he was holding?

First thing that comes to mind when I think of object is the product being sold. It's true, we can use the object card in this way. Come up with product ideas! Just don't let the thinking stop there. The object in question might need an accessory. Or, the object could be causing the problem. TV's were awesome when they were new, but we got tired of having to get up to change the channel. So, the TV became the object causing the problem and the remote control became the object that served as the solution.

O.K. Here's the situation. My parents went away for a week's vacation and...

Bankers are all over the Situation card. I'm in a bit of a situation. can I borrow a couple grand? I promise I'll pay you back. See, my daughter is getting married (another situation) and we need to pay the florist. Also, my brother just got arrested and I need to pay the bail bondsman to get him out of the cooler. Oh yeah, and my car just broke down, too.

Looks like I might need a little more than a couple grand. Don't worry, I'm good for it!

Lights, camera...

Action is an umbrella literary term covering anything that is or could be happening at a moment in time. In movies, we see people robbing a bank or pulling a gun out of a shopping bag. At home in real life, people chop onions, mow the lawn, clean the bathroom, and feed their pets. On tropical vacations, people go to the pool, go to the beach, and go to the bar. Where would NIKE be if people didn't ever run? Or Vans if people didn't ever skateboard? Go downtown, and you see crossing signals and traffic lights because both cars and pedestrians are crossing the street. Our actions offer multitudes of reasons for the need of new products.

I'll try anything once

Themes are easiest to explain with short phrases like, "good always wins in the end" or "it's hard to find good friends". Try to describe a movie to a friend without any mention of the characters, plot, or location in seven words or less.

"Coming of age" brings to mind a basket full of reasons for a transaction. Revenge? Shovels and rope. Haha, just kidding... I mean jewelry, beauty products, and sports cars because, as the REM song goes, "Living well is the best revenge".

Seriously, this works

Yeah, I know. Notecards? A pen? In my pocket? And who's that dork in the corner writing stuff down? Is he some kind of spy or something?

Well, yes... in a way. Go ahead, spy on the world around you! Take notes! Organize your notes into tiny, sortable cards. Mix and match and generate more ideas.

CLOSAT cards are a kind of idea generation tool that, when used, have the potential to generate an infinite number of ideas. Don't know what I'm talking about? Check out my post on lateral thinking.

Got thoughts? Let's discuss over at Reddit.

Profile picture

Written by brian kerr
"Existentialism Is a Cyborgism"
About Guide Projects || Topics || Glossary || Reddit || Github