The Big Idea

There was a time in direct marketing when you could get a good response by saying something like "A unique opportunity for you to earn 168% in two weeks." Or "An all-new supplement that makes you feel like a 25-year-old in 3 weeks."

But that type of approach doesn't work now.

Your prospect's heard it all hundreds, if not thousands, of times. He's been disappointed … so now he's skeptical.

He’s far better informed … and smarter. And this just builds his skepticism.

So if you want to break through that wall of doubt, you have to do far more than sell. You have to …

  • Inform him.
  • Engage his mind.
  • Touch him where he lives emotionally.
  • Jar him out of his complacency.

The way to do it is to build your promotion around a strong, compelling, and unique Big Idea.

So … What Does a Big Idea Look Like?

There's no denying that China is a hot topic for investors. So your prospect has seen scores of investment promos like this

Headline 1:

"3 Hot China Stocks Poised to Explode"

(Ho hum.)

But what if you're an avid investor and you read this headline …

Headline 2:

"6-Month Countdown to China's Oil Crisis …

U.S. Markets Secretly Brace for Disastrous Plunge

3 safe-harbor investments can double your money while other investors are selling wildly"

Would you be interested enough to read on? Of course.

"China's Oil Crisis." That's the Big Idea here. Your prospect has heard tons about America's oil crisis, but he's never heard about China's before. He thought China was rock-solid, and this Big Idea rocks his complacency.

Or let's say you're into natural supplements. Which of the following headlines is more compelling …

Headline 3:

"Omega-3 oils lubricate joints for lasting pain relief."

Or …

Headline 4:

"Want to Stop Arthritis Pain? Stop Taking This Supplement."

Headline 4, right? Your prospect constantly hears about supplements improving joint function. But a supplement that causes joint pain? "Maybe I'm taking it," she thinks. And so she reads your promo.

6 Must-Have Characteristics of a Big Idea

Successful Big Ideas have six characteristics in common. They all …

  • Have instant appeal
  • Have momentum
  • Are timely
  • Are original
  • Have depth
  • Are emotionally stirring

Headline 2 ("China's Oil Crisis") has instant appeal. And it's original, because you haven't seen it before. Nobody's saying anything about this problem. Maybe they're trying to hide something from you.

It has momentum. Six months go fast – and when the crisis hits, the U.S. market will go into free-fall. Businesses will fail, and … well, who knows what else is going to happen?

It's timely and specific, because this disaster is only 6 months away.

Depth? The new information in the headline compels you to want to learn more. You're not sure you can believe this, but you're going to read on to find out. And there's a promise of 3 safe-harbor investments. That really interests you.

All of these factors stir emotion – particularly if there's a chance you'll lose money if you don't act (fear) … and make money if you do (greed).

An Important Point About Big Ideas

Big Ideas are your Golden Thread. You can't simply grab the prospect's attention with a Big Idea headline and then drop the thread.

Your Big Idea does not simply form the basis of your headline and lead. It is the basis of your entire letter. You've made an implicit promise to give your prospect valuable information. That obligates you to do it. If you don't … forget about making a sale.

How Do You Find Big Ideas?

The China oil crisis isn't real. I made it up, because it's a good example of what I'm talking about. But you must NEVER make up your Big Idea. If you lie to your prospect, you may make sales … at first. But in the long run, your client will suffer … and so will you.

So where do you find true stories for compelling Big Ideas?

Everywhere. Once you're aware of the concept of The Big Idea, you'll start noticing them. But you have to read, watch, and listen for things you haven't heard before … things that capture your interest. You'll find them …

  • in print magazines, especially news, science, and political publications
  • in TV and radio news features
  • in e-newsletters on specific areas of interest (HSI is one example, but cast a broad net.)
  • by listening to conversations (What interesting things are people talking about?)

The MOST Important Quality of the Big Idea

The most important thing to look for in a Big Idea is that it must vibrate for you. Before you can use it to excite your prospect, it has to excite you … make you tingle. Because if it doesn't excite you, it won't excite anyone.

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Average: 4.6
Published: April 9, 2007

2 Responses to “The Big Idea”

  1. Well, its a VERY professional approach to get new prospects :-)) Although it has its gaps: VERY long introductury approaches that may leave your prospects alone, as it did to me :-((
    Well, all depends on the expectations, doesnt it?
    So, Good night, keep ya heads up!

    Guest (bolijack)

  2. Hi Will, I got chills reading this...something awakened inside me. The Bid Idea is pure genius, a genie laying dormant for others to uncover.Pure gold, mother lode waiting for us. This is a rare lesson---and also a BIG IDEA on the BIG IDEA. Thanks for the nudge Will... Here's my practice BIG IDEA: "LinkedIn on secret lightning fast location-based app utility set to disrupt recruiting norms in early 2015"


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