“Astounding discovery in 84-year-old silent film. Unlock the secret to gaining 1,000 YouTube likes without investing a penny in advertising.”

That is the headline one of my MFA students shared with me. He wanted to know if it was a big idea.

My answer? Yes, it IS a big idea. It’s brand new, totally unique, and different. I’ve never heard of anyone else talking about an 84-year-old secret in a silent film.

It’s intellectually interesting, and it’s tied to a specific promise. So yes, it’s a big idea.

First and foremost, a big idea is just that; it’s an idea. You can even think of it as just the kernel of an idea. Being able to express that idea simply, and succinctly, is stage 1. (The next stage is being able to communicate it well in copy.)

For instance, if you had a business idea I would say, “Tell me your idea. Describe it to me in 30 seconds or less.” The goal, without going into “copy-speak”, is to get me to say, “Tell me more about that.”

When you can get your listener to want to hear more, you’ve triggered something, emotionally and intellectually.

Who wants to learn more about this?

As my student and I talked some more, he gave me some more details about this film. And then he said, “It’s a Charlie Chaplin movie called City Lights. And the very last moment of the movie has been called one of the greatest moments in American cinema. It makes you want that so badly, whatever that moment is, you want it really, really badly. It creates a desire that just breaks your heart.”

I stopped him right then and said, “You really nailed it with the first headline. But now you have another big idea!

“If we were sitting around a boardroom table, I could tell you about the greatest moment in American cinema that’s been overlooked for years. I could tell you that it holds the secret today to any business or marketer getting thousands of views and likes on YouTube when you know how to use it.”

Now that is a big idea.

If I made that statement at a big marketing conference, and then asked, “How many of you would be interested in learning more about that?” how many hands do you think would go up?

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It’s interesting because we’re not just talking about how to get thousands of views and followers on YouTube. We’re not just saying, “Here’s the secret algorithm to getting views and followers.” We’re giving something that is, first and foremost, an intellectually interesting idea. Hey, even I would like to know what is the greatest moment in American cinema history!

Tie that in with the fact that the greatest moment in American cinema history holds the secret to getting thousands of views and likes and channel followers, and that becomes an emotionally compelling proposition. I’m excited by the promise and intellectually interested in the story behind it.

So if you were to say to me, “Todd, we have a YouTube course that we’re going to promote. What idea do you have to promote it?”

Now I can say, “My idea is that there is a silent film from 84 years ago and when reviewing that film, we discovered a secret in there that is being used today on the internet by marketers. And all the marketers who are using this secret over and over, are getting massive traction and results. And you can use this same idea in your own business.”

Once you flesh out that idea into compelling copy, I would opt in for several reasons.

First, I certainly want the benefit of getting tons of views and likes on social media.

Second, I’m curious to know about the greatest moment in American cinema history, and how it could help me get more likes.

Not your average marketing!

So you see how different this is from a lot of the typical marketing out there? You see headlines all the time like, “How to get a thousand likes in 30 days on YouTube.”

Even if you opt in for that, you do so with the mindset of “Let me see if this is any different from what I already know.”

That is a completely different mindset than wanting to know about this moment in history, and how it might help me! I’m excited to check this out. I feel like have discovered something new.

It’s a totally different feel, a totally different vibe, and that’s why it creates a higher level of engagement.

That’s why you’ll get higher optins, higher engagement, and more interest and attention. This is the sort of thing that just sucks people in. Use it to unfold a story, and lead right into your marketing message.

This is why a big idea rocks your business.

What is YOUR big idea?


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