Executives were sweating — pressure to get and keep accounts made them resort to public outbursts. Staff sprawled out on floors – working through the night — some didn’t even leave the building. The pressure so intense, rumors emerged of staff fornicating in dark closets and basement crannies.
This year, 2009, the S&P 500 saw its lowest mark in years — the mark of the beast — 666. The HR director told me with his face on the floor, “My retirement account is down 70%.”
The financial meltdown ravaged the country’s economy — advertising agencies, once glorious employers, mostly became insolvent. I was an in-demand Web professional working for one of the largest ad agencies in Houston. A new business pitch for a large 8-figure account came through the door.
I was called in to a meeting.
“We are asking everyone to help with ideas for this pitch.” Why were people not a part of the creative process called in to get creative? What about the current projects I was working on? Was the company going under?
This was a war-time effort. But why?
The reason, the real reason — BIG ideas are key. BIG ideas arrest people. BIG ideas stir emotion. BIG ideas cause divorces and marriages. And BIG ideas MAKE MONEY.
BIG ideas are lifelines when the financial weather gets rough.
As individual creators we need BIG ideas too. We need fully-developed ideas for the business of US.
Content generation can be a never-ending time and mental suck – but it doesn’t have to be when really what’s lacking is a BIG idea. For content distribution, I see these BIG ideas as seasons or limited-time themes.
BIG idea lifecycle:
One BIG idea – BIG idea long form, top-to-bottom explanation – execution – many distilled pieces of the BIG idea – repetition – Replaced by a new BIG idea
Repetition of the BIG idea will resonate more with an audience. In a world dominated by speedy thumbscrollers, we need focus — a theme, a season, combined with repetition and different formats, to cement our BIG idea into the minds of our very special followers. They will judge our efforts.
Fewer Ideas. More Idea Depth & Idea Testing.
With fewer ideas / directions, your business and personal goals become more achievable. Suddenly your confusing analytics reports look like the answer to your business problems are staring you in the face instead of 10 levels deep — if there’s an answer at all.
“Focus is a matter of deciding what things you’re not going to do.” – John Carmack
Fewer ideas are easier to manage and gauge success. Plus, when you put a lot of thought into one idea, you know you’ve put in the effort to make sure it was fully communicated. You’ll know if you need to pivot in the future.
Pivoting is Key to Success.
Often, it’s knowing something DOESN’T work that propels you to make the correct decisions in the future. Technology can change. That would require a pivot. The political landscape could change, requiring a pivot. Sometimes just growing older, or entering into a different life stage can require a pivot. With digital platforms, you’ll know right away. And this learning will make you nimble and WISE. You’ll also gain the attention of peers and competitors because your success will appear evident.
Your direction for future content is based on the success or failure of your last BIG idea.
Instead of writing several ideas a week, focus on just one BIG idea in a week. Or 2. Depending on how BIG the idea is. One deep core content is what you need – newsletter, video, or podcast. Once the core content is crafted, you release bits across social media and other mediums hyping the deep core content you created. You’ll need to parse it down into shorter form variants. Chat GPT might be able to help you with this – feed it your content and ask it to write a summary or bullet points.
You are your Deep Content
Deep content is what you (or your business) is known for. It’s the steak. For me personally, I know I’ve gone in too many directions at times. It’s harder to track if the path you are on is the correct path if it’s polluted with multiple, weaker ideas… and especially without repetition. So many social media networks do give us the option to express the full range of our personalities and interests. You can post 80% core messages and 20% random interests. I notice I do follow influencers for their full range of interests in addition to their core competency. But 80% core 20% random will keep you on the right path and make measurement and content generation easier.
Finding BIG Ideas
“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.” – David Ogilvy
Feed your mind to get the BIG idea. Take notes from inspiring books. Read compilations of great thinkers. Surround yourself with relevant books, articles, and podcasts.
Creating BIG ideas can be as easy as turning on a switch. When the switch activates, however, you’ll need to discover for yourself.
BIG ideas are easier to create when you know how and when to create them. Everyone is different. Find the hour of the day you are most creative. Play music that motivates and inspires you. Create an environment so conducive to ideation that you would need to be brain dead not to come up with BIG ideas.
Tracking BIG Idea Success
How can you track, empirically, if your deep idea resonates with people? Bounce rates / engagement rates (like in Google Analytics 4) for your Web content. Email unsubscribes for the email version of the newsletter. The number of Tweet impressions / likes versus your normal amount. And, of course, comments & questions from your audience.
It will be obvious if the idea works or not — just be sure you repeat it enough to know the audience saw it. Sometimes people are busy and you need to read them over and over on different platforms. Also in different medium forms… think the “Don’t do drugs” commercial… text is one way to persuade, but seeing eggs frying in a skillet representing your brain can ingrain the message for some people.
Twitter is an Idea Playground
Twitter is perfect for networking, business pitching, and creating your long-form, deep content, highlights. You can just create a hook, and add a list of nuggets to offer value. BIG ideas can thrive there. Make sure to repeat and tweet.
Re-create your Deep Content Natively for Other Platforms
You can even re-create your deep content into native-form content for social media platforms – threads for tweets (with the option to place a link at the end!), carousels for LinkedIn (LinkedIn Articles should work, but they don’t for some reason… maybe people don’t have patience), and for Instagram you could also do more detailed carousels or longer videos.
The great thing about content is that there is always another fight in the ring. You can always rephrase some of your social content if the first iterations of your highlights don’t work.
1 BIG idea. Many expressions.
This idea is done. I’ve got another BIG idea for my next letter…
Tactical Quick Tips
- Twitter is making a huge comeback. So many great discussions and fascinating people to follow in your industry. TweetDeck is new and improved and has helped me immensely in participating in conversations and interacting with influencers. Follow @KenMorico on Twitter.
Ken’s Reading List – Only Worthwhile Reads
- Writing for outlets isn’t worth it anymore – A professional writer’s experience leaving behind legacy media publishing and creating a new life with Substack & independent newsletters.
- Build Your Own “Driving” Mode in iOS – For people like me that use their iPhone in the car a lot, you can create a “driving” mode to make it easier to use in the car.
The Morico Letter – 3/4/2023
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Stay strong and I wish you luck in your journey.
Ken MoricoView Previous Letters