Content Marketing vs Big Idea Marketing [CASE-STUDY]

This case-study shows you how a new client (for privacy reasons we’ll call him MJ) came to me to get help with converting a “content marketing” campaign into a “big idea marketing” campaign.

Below the video, you’ll see a transcript of the conversation about MJ’s ‘content marketing’ campaign.

The quick history: MJ was running a content marketing campaign that was underperforming.

CTR on his ads was 0.25%, the signup rate from his epic blog post (with offer for free  book) was a measly 3%.

Todd Brown, a funnel specialist and big fan of ‘the big idea’ suggested he change his ‘content marketing’ approach over to a ‘big idea’ marketing approach.

Make sure to watch the video if you’re not quite sure what a ‘big idea’ is and how it’s used in marketing.


In this transcript, VUBS is me (Dr Veit UB Schenk), my new client is MJ:


VUBS: re Todd Brown: yeah, that’s his gig. Easier said than done. Finding the “big idea” is of course the holy grail of marketing, having something that’s so powerful it literally grabs prospects and doesn’t let them go until they’ve bought.

VUBS: but in practice, … it takes years of playing with ideas (or just being a plain ol’ genius ….) and plenty of testing to come up with a big/massive idea that truly hooks people. Sometimes you get lucky.

VUBS: with that in mind, do I think the current headline is a ‘big idea’?

VUBS: the answer is: no …. but it’s a starting point.

VUBS: To begin with: the first 2 lines (top selling author …. all the way to ‘reveals’) is NOT a big hook/idea. That’s bragging. (which is fine, but not a big idea)

[NOTE: what we’re talking about here is this headline:

MJ case-study headline

VUBS: Then … does yer average business owner in YOUR ideal target audience worry primarily about being ripped off by unethical advertising agencies and marketing companies?

VUBS: is that the ONE thing they worry about at night?

VUBS: Also: what’s NEW about it?

VUBS: From personal experience (with MY, not YOUR, ideal target audience when I did the ‘local consulting’ gig) was:

VUBS: a) they’re NOT overly concerned with getting ripped off by unethical companies, and

VUBS: b) there’s nothing (much) new about it.

MJ: The big thing I hear over and over again is that they spend money with advertising companies and feel ripped off

VUBS: if that’s YOUR target audience, and that’s what they’re complaining about, PERFECT!

VUBS: like I said, my comments were based on MY experience.

VUBS: well … just to play with ideas then:

VUBS: are they worried about getting ripped off … and hence don’t hire them, or

VUBS: are they pissed off BECAUSE they invest money and aren’t getting any ROI from those marketing companies?

MJ: Generally speaking bit of both

VUBS: ok, I’d split-test both angles then.

VUBS: Next:

VUBS: WHY are they pissed off?

VUBS: Let’s take those who invest and don’t see a return.

VUBS: Are they pissed off because they were PROMISED results, and those results never happened?

VUBS: or is it because they’d HOPED to get results, and didn’t get them?

VUBS: And finally, and this should be my FIRST question:

VUBS: if you are talking to companies that are spending money on marketing agencies (and aren’t getting results) …. why are you now pitching a ‘DIY’-System to them?

VUBS: Surely, these are perfect candidates for a DFY, not DIY?

MJ: I’m not pitching DIY 🙂

MJ: This is the book funnel that leads into the DFY after the fact 🙂

VUBS: well, the massive “Yes… You can Have [incidentally, missing an ‘a’ before System]…” suggests it’s a DIY system

[NOTE: that ‘Yes … you can have a system’ was part of the original sales-letter, and is no longer visible in the video as MJ loves changing things and never keeps copies of the old content]

VUBS: sure, sure … but it sounds like extra mental work  (for your prospects) to me:

VUBS: a) they are looking for a DFY system where they don’t get ripped off.

VUBS: b) on that page (at least to me) it looks like DIY … so at that point: why should I listen? I’m looking for a DFY, not DIY. Hence great risk of losing them

VUBS: that whole “you can have [a] system…” doesn’t really (IMO) address the main pain-point: “I feel ripped off” …

MJ: YES… There Is A System For Marketing Your Business That ACTUALLY Works!

VUBS: IMO, the conversation in their head goes: “man, I wish I knew how to find someone who doesn’t rip me off … if only someone could point me in the right direction, recommend someone, or at least show me [enter your book] how to pick someone who is reliable

VUBS: (at least that’s my understanding of what you said about YOUR ideal prospects)

[NOTE: although it looks minor on the surface, that distinction is actually a big deal in practice! The moment you force your prospects to jump through mental hoops (unnecessarily), you risk losing them. Watch the video for more details]

VUBS: anyway … back to the beginning: IMO there still is no big idea.

VUBS: to illustrate, I just found what I think is a ‘big idea’ in the fitness niche:

VUBS: it’s got to do with six-pack abs. Most guys never have a six-pack. And when they train, even like crazy, they end up with a 4-pack at  the top, but a mono-pack at the bottom.

VUBS: speaking to that audience, here’s a big idea:

VUBS: “did you know that almost ALL abs-exercises lead to shortened hip-flexors … which are responsible for that ‘bulge’ (mono-pack) at the bottom of your six-pack?” [NOTE: you can see that example here (opens in a new tab)]

VUBS: (something along those lines).

VUBS: the big idea is: standard exercises almost inevitably lead to an ugly, unbalanced six-pack, and no matter how hard you train, you’ll NEVER get there.

VUBS: Ouch!

VUBS: it’s of the kind: “man, finally (FINALLY) I get why I’m struggling…. and I’ve been working so hard“. [NOTE: that’s pretty much the essence of a ‘big idea’ …. That big a-ha moment]

VUBS: that IMO is a big idea

VUBS: actually, let’s step back 1 step:

MJ: That’s assuming guys know what their hip flexors are – might be better to just say “standard exercises almost inevitably lead to an ugly, unbalanced six-pack, and no matter how hard you train, you’ll NEVER get there.” then just explain

VUBS: how well/badly is your current signup page converting?

MJ: I only after tweaking it last night based on Todds suggestions. Haven’t tested anything. Will know a little later

VUBS: do you have a copy of your previous page to look at?

VUBS: we both know the answer of course: no point us 2 speculating, you need to test;-)

MJ: There was no previous optin page. It was blog content with banners asking them do they want a free copy of the book. The offer was very weak. Converted at 3%

MJ: This angle is much better than just “Do you want a free copy of my book?” which I knew was a lame offer but I’d the page created around that. It converted but not to my liking. On the upside. The first upsell is converting at around 50% 🙂

VUBS: haha, time to get more into the door then….

VUBS: right, just signed up … and I’m landing on a big-ass page with about 7 million words …

VUBS: is that a new page, or an existing one from the ‘old’ funnel?

MJ: A new page. The old one was just a video with order form for book

VUBS: right, here’s my take (and I appreciate you didn’t ask for it;-):

VUBS: if you’re working the female body … foreplay is good (or so I’m told).

VUBS: here, it takes you 1/2 of the entire page (which is a LOT of words) to finally get to the ‘crux’ [NOTE: I then counted, it was 4404 words of foreplay…]

VUBS: the crux, IMO is pretty close to a ‘big idea’

VUBS: and those useless, unethical marketing companies out there who ‘rip you off’, well, turns out they’re just hapless, not necessarily unethical. They’re following the old rules. And THAT is WHY they’re giving you such a shoddy ROI!

[NOTE: ‘the reason WHY things are broken (but you haven’t been able to figure it out)’ … that’s a big idea!]

VUBS: back to the long landing page: that’s a LOT of reading … especially when I’m not sold on believing YOU at this point.

VUBS: remember: they’re NEW to Planet John.

[NOTE: I didn’t emphasize that in the video. This is a HUGE point! When they’re NEW to YOUR world, the biggest question they have is: “is this worth my time/effort?” … and 4404 words of ‘backstory’ is a HUGE turn-off when they don’t immediately get what’s in it for them. They are NOT after the entire history WHY it’s not working, but the biggest gem, aka: the big idea!]

VUBS: So, reading 4404 words just to get to the point is a HUGE investment.

VUBS: my guess: they’ll skim most of the introduction

VUBS: and possibly get bored and go home.

VUBS: at this point (brand-new relationship), IMO you’re better off hitting them hard with the ONE statement they can immediately agree with, the one insight that FINALLY explains why they’ve been struggling. That way they see: “ah, this is good stuff, this applies to me, I want more”.

VUBS: then follow up with: “this is how it’s done properly” (which you already do), followed by offer.

VUBS: although, on the offer: my original thoughts still apply:

VUBS: if you’re talking to folks who want DFY, the book is too much DIY (IMO) … unless you re-position it as a guide to understanding SO THEY CAN hire the right people who actually get 21st century advertising

VUBS: and with that, I’m done, leather undies coming off…

MJ: So go with the CRUX at the beginning. Take out all the other stuff.

[NOTE: MJ has now moved much of the backstory to the front-page…]

MJ: The reason I’m going with the book is because the BEST clients are clients who read. The best consulting clients, the best DFY clients, the best buyers, are people who take time to educate themselves through books 🙂

VUBS: yup, agree with that one. A bit like Sean D’Souza who won’t even let you join his inner circle UNTIL you’ve read this entry-level product (which is a 100+ page PDF)

MJ: So have you a few mins to brainstorm a big idea headline based on the crux of the problem?

VUBS: So, agree with that one, what I’d do though is TEST whether you can bump conversions by framing the book as the guide to picking the right marketing agencies (as in: they first have to understand themselves what it is they’re looking for before they can hire … which appears to be at the core of their problem)

MJ: I like that idea…

VUBS: well, actually, I think there are 2 ‘big ideas’ you can test!

[NOTE: the emphasis is on TEST! There’s NO way of knowing which one the market really responds to best]

VUBS: the first one is the ‘advertising as done by all those agencies who don’t deliver results’ (is outdated)

VUBS: the 2nd one is the ‘message, market, THEN media’.

VUBS: basically, almost all of those no-good agencies out there go with media first.

VUBS: “I can get you page 1 rankings”

VUBS: (newspapers): we can get your ad in the paper

VUBS: social media agencies: we can get you 100000 fans.

VUBS: hardly anyone (more like: no one) makes the effort to figure out the message

MJ: I like that angle – it’s what I actually do anyways EVERY TIME in a consulting aspect. Now to wrap a headline around that.

VUBS: and I have NO idea which of those YOUR audience is going to respond to. aka: time for a fun round of split-testing

MJ: Ok I’m going to go back to drawing board and rethink this one. Thanks for help Veit. I owe you one GnT for very sentence on that lovely page 🙂 [NOTE: yes, I’m Mr G&T, hence the reference]

MJ: Might be a while

VUBS: enjoy!

VUBS: hey, we should turn this into a little case-study … about using ‘big ideas’

MJ: Could do 🙂

VUBS: oh, and your welcome email (leather panties on) … (only kidding): great job, love it. The one thing I would add is a link back to the sales-page … perhaps as a little side-remark related to the “no BS approach” at the top (and then link to relevant testimonials on the sales-page)

VUBS: but not a top priority, good enough as it is

MJ: Write I’m gonna redo the optin page with a closer tie to both of those big ideas then condense down the sales page and position the book as a way to way to make best decision possible

VUBS: looking forward to it!

MJ: “The ONE THING You Can Do To Evoke Interest From Prospective Customers And Ensure Your Marketing & Advertising Doesn’t Get Lost In A Sea Of Drearily Commonplace Marketing Messages That Are Invisible To Your Prospective Customers”

 [NOTE: I’m not at all a fan of this as it still misses what really makes a big idea. See the early part of the video for more details]

MJ: Not too sure about “thing”

VUBS: lol, “evoke” … are you talking to women?

VUBS: but, hey, test, test,test

VUBS: overall, I personally prefer ‘fear’ based headlines for a first point of contact.

MJ: There’s fear there 🙂

VUBS: that’s why your original angle had juicy goodness in it: “getting ripped off”….

MJ: Positive first then fear

VUBS: right, which angle are you trying to cover here?

VUBS: the “you’re getting ripped off and it’s because those agencies just don’t “get” 21st century marketing”

VUBS: or

VUBS: the other one

MJ: Well it’s essentially the same angle

MJ: They don’t understand 21st century marketing plus MESSAGE first

VUBS: nah, the first one was all about: “those companies are copying what others are doing, and that’s pretty much ‘brand-building'” Those days are over.

VUBS: they still use the same ol’ pattern to create ‘commercials’, jingles and all that other stuff that no longer works BECAUSE it’s now the 21st century, and there’s a new breed of advertising. (and no, it’s not “social media”)

VUBS: I agree, fundamentally they’re the same thing … HOWEVER … we don’t know which of the 2 is the one your prospects are MORE (acutely) aware of.

[NOTE: this is what I refer to as the “expert’s dilemma” in the video: MJ and I already know that both things are very closely related … however, his prospects may well see those as 2 very different things … and worry about one, but not the other]

VUBS: “the old stuff no longer works (but they have no idea why) and they feel ripped off because the only option they SEEM to have is the various marketing/advertising agencies and/or ads in the paper”

VUBS: or

VUBS: “all those marketing agencies that appear to rip you off … well, they’re just clueless because they focus on the wrong end of modern marketing. They all start with ‘media’. Think about it: they sell you ‘page 1 rankings’, they sell you ad-space in the paper, they sell you ‘social media/10000fans’. All of those focus on the ‘medium’ without ever thinking about the message and the market first! Alas: you’re screwed.

VUBS: I reckon that “being at the mercy/seemingly no other option” (of marketing agencies) could be a nice frustration they’re experiencing!!!

[NOTE: and again, by going through the content, we slowly peeled back the layers and found another hot-button/pain-point worth TESTING]


MJ: 🙂

—————————————- End of Transcript ————————————

Hope you found it useful! And just to get you a little excited, here’s some early feedback from MJ:


If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me: veit at onlinerule dot com

Right, what’s next?

At the moment I’m putting together a program that helps like-minded entrepreneurs get the ‘message’ right.

Yes, it does include all the other stuff that’s important (like creating a positive ROI funnel, creating content and products ‘LEAN’ style, and even some of the technical stuff), but, above all, it’s all about getting your MESSAGE right so you get people to say “yes, I’m interested, tell me more” (instead of having to hit them over the head with a hefty dose of sales-psychology)

If you’d like to know more, let me know here  (or leave a comment below)





  1. I’m interested….

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