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Thursday, June 6, 2013

The BIG Idea

Dear Friends:

The enclosed essay is by Mark Ford (aka Michael Masterson). 

I've always enjoyed Mark's view on the BIG idea.

I think you will too 

The BIG Idea

A big idea is important.
By important, I mean important to the customer - not the copywriter - and relevant to the product being sold. The devaluation of the dollar may be important to American investors, in general. But it won't be important to a customer who is being asked to buy a newsletter about a type of investment that won't be affected by the dollar's decline. The swine flu may be important to this same customer - but it cannot possibly be relevant in a sales letter that is selling investment advice.

A big idea is exciting.
You are not going to excite your customer by repeating the predictions or promises that the rest of the media is publishing. They have already been exposed to those ideas. To provoke real excitement, you need to go beyond the conventional. You need to find some new angle that makes your customer sit up and pay attention. 

A big idea is beneficial.
The excitement created must benefit the customer. Put differently, it should make the customer want to buy the product being sold. Let's say you're selling grass-fed beef. You can get your customer excited by telling him about how quickly people in this country are becoming poor. But that kind of excitement will make him less - not more - likely to buy the expensive type of meat you're selling.

A big idea leads to an inevitable conclusion.
The big idea must contain some internal logic that is fundamentally simple. It must be easy to grasp and easy to see how the product you are selling solves a particular problem or delivers on a stated promise. The best big ideas tie into something that makes the product unique. As soon as the customer hears the idea, he begins to feel the need for the product, even before it is mentioned in the copy. 

The best big ideas do all of that work with a very few words. The sale is half-made in the headline or by the end of the first paragraph.

Let me give you three examples.

In this first example, the big idea is aimed at readers concerned with their health:

How the French Live Longer Than Everyone Else ...
Even though they eat like kings and smoke like chimneys!

This headline offers to answer a riddle that has puzzled the reader for many years: why the French - who eat cheese, meat, and rich sauces - stay so thin. And another riddle the reader just discovered: why the French - who smoke like chimneys - outlive everyone else too!

Implicit, here, is a promise that will appeal to almost anyone: You can eat like the French eat ... and lose weight ... and live longer.

This next example is a big idea that would interest avid golfers:

Want to slash strokes from your game almost overnight?
Amazing Secret Discovered By
One-Legged Golfer Adds 50 Yards
To Your Drives, Eliminates Hooks and Slices ...
And Can Slash Up To 10 Strokes From Your Game
Almost Overnight!

The idea that there's a secret discovered by a one-legged golfer is exciting.It implies that if the reader has two legs, he'll have an even greater advantage. 

Plus, the promise that this secret could add 50 yards to his drives and slash up to 10 strokes from his game is both VERY important and beneficial.

The reader can't help but come to the conclusion that he needs this secret.
Finally, here's an example geared toward savvy investors:

Outlawed for 41 years, now legal again,
This investment launched the largest
family fortune the world has ever seen ...
and could return 665% in the next 12 months.

The big idea is that this secret investment was once illegal. It's exciting, because it's the same investment that launched the largest family fortune in history. What's more, once the reader learns what this investment is, he could stand to make a 665% return on his money in a year or less. That makes it important and beneficial.

The inevitable conclusion: "I've got to read this and find out what this investment is."

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