What do the world’s best copywriters know that you don’t?
How are they able to generate promotions that generate millions of dollars — even tens of millions, or more — while yours fall on their face?
It all comes down to captivating an audience…
— Grabbing their attention…
— Stimulating interest…
— Cultivating desire…
— And stimulating action…
And that pretty much always comes down to nailing one part of their promotion: The Big Idea.
The Big Idea is the USP of the 21st Century…
Especially in busy markets where it’s hard to differentiate between offers A, B, C… all the way to Z…
The marketer with the best Big Idea grabs all the attention, and wins.
If your big idea is unique, the selling proposition won’t demand it. Because by the time the prospect gets to the selling proposition, if it fulfills on the big idea it’s the only thing they care about.
Today’s Mailbox Monday question is about big ideas…
Every Monday I answer your questions. About copywriting, selling, marketing, business-building, career-building, and more.
You can submit your question for a future issue here.
Here’s today’s question…
I like your work!
My question is, how can I come up with powerful Big Ideas for my copy?
First and foremost, your big ideas must be personal…
Have you ever heard of WIIFM?
That’s shorthand for “What’s in it for me?” And it’s the question your prospect is always asking. Whether you’re selling in person, or through media. Or even if you’re not even selling, but simply delivering content.
If they don’t feel like there’s something in it for them — specific to their unique needs, wants, and desires — they won’t even pay attention. Much less buy anything.
So first and foremost, you have to make sure you’re talking about and ultimately offering something valuable to your prospect.
What do you have that they want?
Once you are certain of that, it’s time to consider…
The 3 big idea types…
As I teach in my High-Velocity Copywriting program, there are actually only three main types or categories of Big Ideas.
— Solving an Urgent Problem
— Presenting a 10X Opportunity
— Making an Imminent Prediction
Now there’s a lot of nuance between these. And once you nail which category your idea fits in, there’s a unique path to presenting it and tying it to your offer. All of which is covered in the training linked above.
And yet, just making sure your idea ties into one of these makes it far more likely it’s going to grab attention — and drive the prospect into the message, and on to the sale.
The vast majority of marketing falls under Urgent Problem ideas, and for good reason. Most of what we buy is to solve a problem in our life (or to solve the problem of an unmet need).
We need new clothes. We need a new car. We need a new roof. We need a new computer.
Whatever our need is, the marketer who can speak to that problem can be quick to win the sale.
“Is your computer slowing you down?” As I write this, I’m on a computer that would have me interested in the marketer that asked that question. I don’t know if I’m quite at the buying stage yet, but that’s enough of a big idea to hook me in. And if they tailored it to people who earn money from their computers, they could easily paint a picture of a computer that’s costing you money because it’s slower than you are. Which would perfectly set up a sale.
But sometimes, marketers hook us not for a problem we want to have solved, but for an opportunity they can offer.
“Retire this year, and still make as much as most doctors.” That’s a well-known Big Idea in the copywriting world, because it’s what AWAI has used to sell copywriting programs.
The idea of retiring and actually earning more money (because most of their target market isn’t already earning a doctor’s income) is an appealing one. In fact, it’s probably 10X better of an opportunity than what most of their market is doing now, when you factor in the full freedom of what AWAI has christened The Writer’s Life.
Then there’s another category entirely of Big Ideas. The one where we find the biggest of Big Ideas, especially in the high-paying financial niche.
There’s the Imminent Prediction. This is a prediction of an event that is soon to occur, that will either create an Urgent Problem or a 10X Opportunity.
These are typically very indirect. And financial promos use these especially, because the nature of the investment markets is that things are always changing. So the person who has the best idea of what’s to come is going to presumably be ahead of those changes, and ready to profit from them. (Or provide protection, if bad things are coming.)
Questions to ask yourself…
When it comes down to nailing your Big Idea, you want to first fit it into one of these categories.
— Are you offering the solution to an urgent problem the prospect already has?
— Are you offering an opportunity they can take advantage of right away, that’s 10X better than what they’re currently doing?
— Or are you predicting an event in the immediate future, which will create a problem you will help them solve or an opportunity you will help them exploit?
Only one of those should be true.
And whichever is true will point you toward the big idea type.
Keep your antenna up. Look out for urgent problems to solve, little-known or new opportunities, or predictions of things to come.
Then, consider how they link back to your product or service, and how that points to the idea that will fulfill the prospect’s needs, wants, and desires.
Find the story…
Students of my Story Selling Master Class know the power of this one.
Your prospects will resonate on a far deeper level if you can make your sales case in the form of a story, versus making it directly in the form of a pitch.
We’re wired for story. It’s what motivates us. Moves us. On a deep, human, emotional level. In a way that leads to much deeper impact than simply making a logical case.
I remember one early promo I did, for a business opportunity product.
I wrote it in my voice.
And what I did was wrote it as if I was astounded to discover that someone was making as much money as they were, doing the opportunity they did. I was agog over how little work they seemed to do. And how much they got paid to basically sit on their butt in their house slippers.
I don’t want to go into too many details about that product here, but I will tell you it broke the client’s sales records.
In fact, it sold so much they had to shut down sales to accommodate all the new customers.
I also used story to make a credible prediction of an EMP threat to America. (I break down that promo, line-by-line, in The Story Selling Master Class.)
I also used story in the Titans of Direct Response event promo, to capture Brian Kurtz’s voice, and to give a huge reason why you’d have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend an event like that. (I also do a line-by-line analysis of that in the Story Selling Master Class.)
Most of my best promos have been full of story.
Sometimes little stories. Sometimes big stories. But stories nonetheless. And all in service of presenting the Big Idea.
And in fact, it’s often in asking for stories around the product that I first hear the problem, opportunity, or prediction that becomes the Big Idea.
But sometimes it’s not so obvious, so I need another method to find it.
My A+B=C secret when I can’t find a Big Idea…
When I’m working and working and can’t land on a Big Idea, I have another tool in my toolbox.
Long ago I realized that creativity seldom comes from nowhere.
The best, most profitable creativity most often comes from tying two or more things together, for the first time.
And so I’ll take Story A, and Story B, which I found separately and which I can’t find anyone else has tied them together. But by carefully connecting the dots, I’m able to make Story C, which gives me the Big Idea.
Take the EMP promo, mentioned above.
There was a Russian satellite that made headlines.
I knew my client had an EMP-resistant backup solar generator.
I knew that EMPs could be generated by a nuclear detonation in the stratosphere.
I figured out where that would have to be, in terms of altitude. I also figured out what altitude this Russian satellite was flying at. And I realized I’d found something.
And so my story was that this Russian satellite (or something like it) could actually be used to launch an EMP attack.
I connected the dots. It was all well-reasoned, although I will note there was a lot “What if?” factor in connecting the dots.
But in the end, it was a credible and believable story, effectively predicting a situation that would cause an urgent problem.
It sold a lot of generators.
And the customers were happy.
If you want to go deeper…
My High-Velocity Copywriting training — and the now-included templates program — goes deep into the three big idea types, and how to use each to structure a powerful selling message.
It’s one of my most popular trainings for good reason.
It’s breakthrough thinking into how to write breakthrough copy, at breakneck speed.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,