Your next big breakthrough is just one idea away…
You’ve probably heard the stories. A copywriter or marketer tests a new headline. The new headline multiplies response. Suddenly a loser becomes a winner, a winner becomes a breakaway hit.
… Or, alternately, the marketer tests a new ad, from a new copywriter, selling fundamentally the same product. One ad beats the other, and there’s a new control.
What makes the difference?
It is NOT the copy itself. Although the words used in a headline are important, they seldom truly move the needle.
It’s what’s behind those words…
That’s the substance. That’s what truly attracts the audience of hot prospects. And that’s what gets them interested and desiring of your offer. So that they’ll take action when you present them with your offer.
But how do you find ideas for your ads? Likewise, if you’re creating content to attract buyers and setup the sale, how do you find the ideas there?
That’s today’s question…
It’s Monday. Which means it’s time for me to open the ol’ mailbox and answer YOUR questions.
If you have a question for a future issue of Mailbox Monday, click here.
Here’s our question…
Thank you as always for your constant insight. I’ve been reading a ton about the direct response business through both yourself and other A List copywriters, and they all say the same thing: clients want to hear new ideas.
This seems to be a viable way to gain the attention of “dream clients” for the newbies to this business.
I was wondering if you’d be willing to provide some insight into how you generate your ideas and then apply them in your writing.
Thank you again for your help.
Let’s start with a lesson learned from Warren Buffett…
Warren Buffett spends most of his day reading. He makes his money as an investor, and as the head of what has become a rather large group of companies under Berkshire Hathaway.
He could spend his days doing a lot of different activities.
But he spends his day reading. Gathering as much input as he can.
Most of what he reads is probably irrelevant. He actually suggests making as few investment decisions throughout your life as possible.
And yet he’s always reading, always looking for input, always looking for inspiration.
Good copywriters are like that, too. We collect tidbits of information. We read things, and remember them — if only on a subconscious level.
We don’t even know when or if we’ll use most of it. We just keep reading and collecting info and ideas.
And we don’t plan to use all of them — not by any stretch.
But we know that when it comes time to come up with an idea for a promo or ad, we’ll have a deep collection to draw from.
So we keep reading, and collecting ideas.
And I’ll note: it’s important to study ads that work. It’s important to study marketing. But it’s perhaps even more important to study things that are NOT marketing.
You learn the marketing so that you’ll have some sense of how things can fit or be translated into marketing. But ultimately, the best ideas you have will come from new sources. The news. Articles or books you read. Shows you watch. Random conversations.
You collect these ideas figuratively. In your head. As flashes of memory.
You can also collect them literally. I keep Evernote files of articles that I thought might contribute to a new investment promo, but I rarely look at them, and these files are much smaller than the files I collect after I’ve landed on an idea.
Next, trust your subconscious mind…
Your mind is a powerful thing, when you don’t get in its way.
If you ask your subconscious mind to be on the lookout for stories for a specific purpose, it will find them.
It will connect dots you don’t connect consciously.
You may read about some new iPhone feature, followed by something about college football, followed by some political news…
And your brain puts those things together.
You have to trust this. At least enough to explore the ideas your brain gives you.
They won’t all make it through to the final draft. But they are certainly worth considering.
I recall a few years back, I was looking at doing a promotion for an energy publication, that was looking at how oil was being carried over the Canadian border by rail, rather than pipeline. I’d also watched a documentary about Prohibition, and was thinking about bootleggers.
Well, that was all I needed to go on.
We played with that idea for a long time.
In the end, it didn’t work out.
But then, years later, I had the opportunity to pull some of the same ideas into a marijuana legalization promo. And BANG, it was a control.
You never know, but you have to trust your subconscious mind to bring it forth and draw connections when you need them.
It does also pay to learn some basic formulas…
For example, my High-Velocity Copywriting training identifies the three big idea types as Urgent Problems, 10X Opportunities, and Imminent Predictions.
Even within those, there are certain formulas for certain markets. Investing has things like “A brand new way to make money,” “A huge piece of news is coming for this little company,” and other really fundamental formulas that are repeated over and over again.
Other markets are more easily defined by the problems that are solved through ads.
When you know these formulas, you have something that serves as a bit of a filter for ideas.
So, if I’m looking for ideas for fitness, I may always be looking for new studies that suggest a specific approach to working out. Or perhaps new research about specific foods, and their impact on your health.
Again, it’s just about having a vague sense of what you’re looking for, and then making sure you’re ALWAYS digging into new information and news, and looking for what you can pull from.
There’s nothing new under the sun, but there are new ways to say old things…
That’s probably my strongest parting thought.
You don’t have to find a NEW idea.
But you do have a present old ideas in ways that feel new.
The better you get at that, the more natural this all becomes.
One of my favorite ideas I ever landed on was the idea behind my Object 2014-28E promo, for Lee Bellinger’s Independent Living.
I was reading the news, and there was an article about this piece of Russian space junk that turned out to be some kind of powered satellite. There was sudden fear that this was a secret space weapon.
At the same time, I was looking into EMPs for Lee, which are a huge threat to the power grid. And one of the possible sources of an EMP would be a nuclear detonation in space.
So I got hypothetical — I wondered if this Russian satellite in the news could be used for an EMP. The science lined up in terms of it being at the right altitude, etc.
And so then I just dug into that narrative, and found all the support I got for that as a possibility.
I presented it as a possibility. I said it may not be, but that’s how easy it would be.
It was a huge success. Sold a ton of his EMP-resistant generators.
And it simply came from reading a lot of unrelated news, and being open for my mind to connect the dots.
Then, when the dots start to connect, playing with it until I find the story.
That’s the easiest way I know to find and create breakthrough ideas.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
PS: Notice how in this article I looped in a bunch of ideas (e.g. Warren Buffett) off the top of my head? That’s what happens. That’s what I’m talking about. That’s what you have to do. The more you do what I’ve just told you, the more automatically it’ll come.