Diving deeper into the big idea…

I actually hadn’t read these issues since I wrote them in 2014.  It’s really interesting to go back and look at them.  Because I found things I was talking about here, that I didn’t really teach again until last year, during the Story Selling Master Class.

Cool!  When you’ve published over a million words, it’s easy to forget some of what you’ve shared!

Again — having the right big idea to hook readers is perhaps the most important element of all persuasive messages.  Get this right, you can sell a ton — because you command attention.  Get it wrong, and you get left out in the cold, like the vast majority of marketing and selling messages.

One important point here, that’s not addressed in the articles: novelty.

The whole point of a big idea is to come up with something that looks, feels, and sounds new to your prospect.  Nail this, and you’ll have their full attention.  Fail on this one point, and it doesn’t matter what proven formula you use, you fail.

The whole point and purpose of the big idea is to come up with something that feels new and novel and BIG to the prospect.  While you can do this under the inspiration of previous winning ideas, it’s this connecting dots in a new way that really moves the needle.

Here’s the “Best of” essay…


Part II: How to uncover the compelling “big idea” for your promotion

Welcome back to what quickly turned into a 2-part series on uncovering the “big idea” for your sales letter or marketing promotion!

In case you missed it (or want to read it again) you can read Part I here.

To get you up to speed, in Part I we covered…

– Why having a “big idea” is critical — especially in today’s over-crowded, over-marketed world…

– What Agora’s Bill Bonner taught me about finding the story by crawling inside the head of your reader…

– Gary Bencivenga’s two secrets to more effective copy — plus how to use them to generate your “big idea”…

And today we’re going to keep on going!

The Clayton Makepeace “Two Predictions” method…

Here’s a little lesson I learned from Clayton Makepeace about the two types of predictions he’s most likely to use to start any financial copy (and if you’re not writing financial copy, find a way to apply them to your topic)…

First is the negative prediction.  The market’s going to crash.  A blue chip stock is set for collapse.  Western civilization is going to fall apart.  Your broker’s about to get shut down with half of Wall Street.  The IRS is going to raise taxes — especially on investors.  The list goes on…  If your product or guru tells the narrative that there’s a big negative event on the horizon, that’s your big idea.  Simply find a way to flesh out that negative prediction and prove it to the max.  Make it feel real, and imminent.  Then, when you’ve made it clear what the problem is, AND made it agonizingly close to the prospect, hit ‘em with your solution.  And there’s your classic “fear” promo.

Second is the positive prediction.  We’ve discovered this tiny stock that’s going to pop.  A new bull market is being born.  The next investment bubble is just starting to inflate, and set for triple-digit sure profits from here.  And we have the best way to play it.  This story makes an incredibly compelling “greed” pitch in the investment market, and can function as the perfect big idea.  You can also find ways to use these negative prediction and positive prediction (or negative future event and positive future event) in your markets…

There are all sorts of other stories that work as templates for your big idea…

Here’s the the thing.  One of the best ways to identify a big idea when it jumps out at you is to fill your mental arsenal with even vague memories of hundreds or thousands of winning promotions from the past.  This isn’t even a “swipe file.”  It’s just constantly listening to hear, “That promo was a big winner,” or “We tested A and B, and B won.”  Look at what worked before.  Try to figure out the core story that was told.  And internalize that story structure so that when a similar story can be uncovered within your product or service, you are able to tell it in a way that’s very similar to what worked before.

— “They laughed when I sat down at the piano” is a classic underdog pitch.  I couldn’t.  They never expected I could.  Then I did and proved them all wrong.  That’s a dang hot “big idea.”

—  Rich Dad Poor Dad is a “secret mentor” story.  I learned a lesson from a mentor whose identity I can’t reveal.  And now I’m going to share it with you.  Again, a great “big idea” if you can match it to your product.

— Any “amazing discovery” can be turned into a compelling “big idea.”

—  Claude Hopkins’ famous Schlitz beer ad that outlined the process that Schlitz (and all the other brewers at the time) used to make “pure” beer was a great example of using the product mechanism as a “big idea.”

—  There’s also the “reluctant hero” pitch — a variation on the amazing discovery — where you had made a discovery for yourself, and someone else pushed you to share it with the world.

These are all off the top of my head.  There are many more where they came from.  These stories are proven effective sales tools.  And if you can integrate them into the narrative you’re building around your product, they make great “big ideas.”

But let’s not stop there!

The workhorse “big idea” that makes millions for Agora and its related companies year after year…

The Secret, as a book and movie, was a pop culture phenomenon for a reason.  People want to know the answers to secrets.   Especially those that will give them all they want in life.  The more magical, the better.

Agora and its related companies have perfected an entire class of sales letters and promotions that leverage this simple principle.

“The Secret Lead.”

This is an entire sales letter built around teasing a discovered secret, and all its benefits.

The secret — if you will — to creating a secret lead, is to simply create it.  You’re not lying.  You’re creating a dramatic device that allows you to make your sales pitch.  Without showing your hand in the process of presenting what you’re selling.

And so you start to ask journalistic questions…

– Who has done this, used this, talked about this?

– What is it?  What makes it possible?  What can it do for you?

– When did this come about?

– Where did this come from?  Where will it take the reader?

– Why does this exist?  Why is it so interesting?  Why do you want it?

Somewhere in there — or in even deeper research — you find a story to hang your promotion on.  And that is your idea.  Then the trick becomes to tell it in a unique and interesting way that doesn’t give away what you’re selling, and importantly, that feels believable and not too contrived.  (Believability is crucial in maintaining a secret pitch from beginning to end.)

This is an absolute art form.  But it’s one that can be learned and developed through practice.  And worth it — because it appears to be one of the best performing promotion types out there right now.

And this all brings us around to…

The #1 method for consistently uncovering compelling big ideas…

It’s something really simple…

It’s research!

Do a ton of it.  Far more than you need.  Dig deeper.  Look wider.  Ask more questions.  Be more inquisitive.

And something will jump out at you.

It won’t come from staring at a blank page.  It will come from digging for it.

That’s where you’ll find your “big idea.”

And then do more research until you have far more proof and credibility and real-world stories than you need to make the sales argument…

And then string it all together in a narrative…

Then edit it down, because there will be a ton that’s superfluous…

And that’s how you find and execute a big idea.

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr

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