“Big ideas” are the lifeblood of copywriters.

A copywriting big idea is a unique, core idea that you focus on in a piece of copy, which is both interesting and beneficial for your reader.

Every successful ad, sales letter, or marketing campaign has, at its core, a unique and compelling idea that captures people’s attention, makes them want to find out more, and allows them to embrace the product.

This is true for non-sales copy as well. A blog post, white paper, email, or nearly any other piece of written content will also benefit from a strong, engaging big idea.

Copywriters spend a lot of time coming up with new “ideas.” Sometimes as much as 50 percent of the time you spend on a project is spent finding and honing the big idea upon which you’ll base your copy.

It’s the most challenging – and at the same time, fun – part of the job.

When you have a very strong big idea, you know it. You’ll know it because you’ll be excited about it – and you’ll know it because your copy will practically write itself.

How Do You Find a Big Idea?

Because ideas play such an important roll, copywriters are always trying to uncover a “formula” for creating a successful big idea.

We can’t be sure we’ve found the answer yet… but for now, we like master copywriter Mike Palmer’s take. He says a big idea is simply something that stops people in their tracks because it’s new, interesting and compelling.

Mike says a successful big idea has four key ingredients:

  1. Originality – something new that hasn’t been seen before
  2. Intrigue – to keep your reader reading
  3. A direct or implied benefit – a “reward” for reading on
  4. Affirmation – a confirmation of something your reader already believes in

One of the surest ways to come up with a big idea that’s compelling is through research.

David Ogilvy, an entrepreneur and copywriter known as the “Father of Advertising,” famously found the inspiration for his famous Rolls Royce campaign while leafing through a trade journal.

In it, he found a single quote from a Rolls Royce engineer: “At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls Royce comes from the electric clock.” That quote became the headline of one of the most successful ads Mr. Ogilvy ever wrote!

David Ogilvy also had this to say about finding your big idea:

“Big ideas come from the unconscious. This is true in art, in science, and in advertising. But your unconscious has to be well informed, or your idea will be irrelevant. Stuff your conscious mind with information, then unhook your rational thought process. You can help this process by going for a long walk, or taking a hot bath, or drinking half a pint of claret. Suddenly, if the telephone line from your unconscious is open, a big idea wells up within you.”

To hone in on a big idea, learn everything you can about the subject you’re writing about or the product you’re selling. Like David Ogilvy, you may find a random piece of information that will trigger the perfect big idea.

Another vital preparation for a big idea is to intimately get to know the prospect you’ll be writing to. What sort of person is going to be reading your copy? What are their core beliefs? What do they worry about? What are their dreams in life?

Knowing exactly who you’re speaking to will help you discover what type of ideas would be important to them, and how to get their attention.

Finding a big idea might take a little extra time at first, but once you have it, the rest of your project will fall into place more easily. And you’ll be able to write a higher-quality piece of writing that connects with your reader on a much deeper level.

That’s a big idea we can all strive for.