Big Ideas that Impacted Me in 2014

Big ideas 2014

Boiling 12 months of brain activity down into a few hundred words is an intimidating task. But rather than giving a full-on commencement speech as you “graduate” from this year and move into the next, we might as well get straight to the point.

If I was forced to share the 3 ideas that had the biggest impact on my thinking in 2014, it would be these:

The Immense Importance of Identity in Decision Making

One morning in January 2011, I was standing in a cell phone store when there was breaking news story came on the radio. A mysterious 13th zodiac sign had been discovered — and with Ophiuchus (as the new sign was called) squeezing itself into the calendar, every other sign was shifted. Scorpios became Libras and the world was all out of wack.

Half the people in the store freaked. The man playing with the laptop display searched to find out the new dates, and a small crowd gathered around him, wondering who they were supposed to be now…

(Do you remember that day?)

I share that anecdote to illustrate a point. Astrology falls into the fairy tale category, but people’s reactions were very real. Some people think about their identity largely through the lens of their zodiac signs. They had seen themselves in their horoscopes for years. What happens with that is called into question?

The way we perceive ourselves affects almost everything we do. As a marketer, copywriter or salesperson, you MUST understand the way your ideal customers see themselves. It goes deeper than just features and benefits…even deeper than problems and desires.

This incident happened 4 years ago, but I am coming to understand the power of identity more fully as time goes by and experience mounts.

We’re going to spend a good deal of time fleshing out this idea and applying this concept in my upcoming training/coaching program. In the meantime, you can read about this incident in greater detail in The Ophiuchus Effect.

The Gargantuan Difference Between Prospects and Buyers

This was The Business Growth Question I Couldn’t Get out of My Mind earlier this year. It’s been stuck there for the past 350 days or so.

There is a world of difference between someone who reads your free material but hasn’t sent you any money. I advise you to check out the link to the article, because I’m going to be brief here.

Interestingly, when someone becomes a paying customer, their identity is altered a little bit. As they become accustomed to being a customer, they may come to think of themselves in terms of your product or service. There are Pepsi people. There are Apple people. There are Chicago Bears fans (we’re a depressed bunch these days).

Some of us are as loyal to our preferred products as to our political affiliations.

Do what you can to convert your prospects into buyers. The relationship you build with your buyers is arguably the most valuable asset you have.

The Enormity of Leadership

If this sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because leadership has been one of the Big Ideas that Impacted me in 2012 and 2013. The topic is both important and compelling.

I do not speak of leadership in the superior-subordinate sense. I’m talking about something closer to “I’m taking my flashlight in this direction; who’s headed this way?

Even if you’re not giving orders, you are a leader if you have an audience. And as a leader, you have a responsibility for the well-being and progress of those walking with you. You have to

  • Teach them. Help them develop a worldview that will serve them well
  • Warn them. You see danger they can’t see yet. You’re aware of pitfalls they need to know about. Have the guts to stand up and protect them to the best of your ability
  • Encourage them.
  • Inspire them. Share your successes and the successes of other members of the group. Never miss out on a chance to give them good news.
  • Exemplify the philosophy you espouse. Walk the walk.

I’ve pontificated on this topic some more at Leadership: Burden and Blessing, if you’re interested.

Happy New Year. May this be your best year yet. Let me know how I can help you achieve that.

P.S. Have you registered to get your copy of Creating Business Growth yet? It’s going to be available for free on Amazon Kindle from January 1-5.

Weighing in at more than 300 pages, this book shares expert insights on
– Google Adwords
– Getting Referrals
– Neurolinguistic Programming
– Networking
– Search Engine Optimization
– Email Marketing
– Public Relations
– Unique Value Propositions
and plenty more.

This will very likely be the most useful book you read all year. What’s more, you’ll get to know nearly 2 dozen of the smartest marketers I know…men and women who have earned my admiration and trust over the past couple years.

Get more details and pre-register to get a free copy on New Year’s Day at


Writing Copy to Sell Your “Crazy” Offer

Yesterday we talked about turning your prospects into paying customers by making crazy offers. Did this concept haunt you the way it’s been haunting me? I hope you spent a good deal of time coming up with an almost too-good-to-be-true offer you can use to move potential clients from interest into action.

Ideally, you will come up with an offer so crazy, so compelling that you don’t need much sales copy (or pitching if you’re selling in person or over the phone). Start with a winning product or service and create a very valuable offer and you’re already most of the way there. Now the copy has an easy job. (Confidentially, this is one of the big reasons copywriters are picky about which projects they work on.)

But no matter how strong your offer is, you should still…

…Sell the Heck Out of It Anyway

Even though making the right offer to the right prospect is 80% of the battle, persuasively-written sales copy can improve response by 10, 100 or 1000%.

Here are 4 qualities that will add extra oomph to your copy:


Your message should aim for the heart of who your target customer is and how he sees himself.

Nike could talk about comfort, but their customers are athletes concerned with performance, so that’s what their marketing highlights. Lexus could talk about performance, but Lexus buyers are thinking about status. That’s what they showcase in their ads.

What causes one person’s heart to race may not excite the next person at all. Know your customers. Write copy that appeals to their sense of who they are and who they want to be.


Don’t be the least bit vague about what you’re offering. Tell them exactly what they’ll get, how long it’s available for, how they’ll benefit from their purchase, what to expect next, etc. Clarity creates vision; without vision there is no action. On the other hand, confused people generally don’t buy.

Bold Claims

The idea of under-promising and over-delivering seems to make sense, but it can be suicidal when it comes to marketing. These days, with so many sales messages begging for our attention, you can’t afford to be shy.

Don’t be afraid to make big claims, as long as you can back them up.

People are searching for the best answers to their questions, the best solutions to their problems. Imagine a dentist who marketed his services as getting your teeth “pretty clean.” How long will he be in business? Even if he’s the best dentist in town, marketing like that will ruin him.


Skepticism is at an all-time high. So is the volume of hype-filled sales pitches we see and hear every day. People are looking for providers they can trust. Any hint of dishonesty or shadiness will send most potential buyers running.

Sincerity is like a breath of fresh air. Almost no one is using it.

The less you seem to hype up what you’re doing, the more believable you are. You come across as honest and helpful instead of desperate and opportunistic.

Your Action Steps

1) If you haven’t come up with it yet, keep working on your crazy offer.

2) Write the first draft of your sales copy ASAP.

3) Test out your offer. Don’t be scared.

If I’ve ever shared anything on this blog that I think you should act on right away, this is it. Don’t let another day go by without considering the immediate and long-term effects this “crazy offer” concept can have on your business.

And get moving!