Have you ever sat down at your computer to write a piece of content – be it an email, a sales letter, a social media post, or a blog post – but have no idea how to write everything you want to say in a way that keeps your readers reading?
I want to give you a little tip. It seems so simple you’ll be tempted to pass it by. But that’s why it works.
You need a controlling idea.
Before every piece of content I write (and even before I wrote this blog post), I define my controlling idea.
For this blog post, it was: a controlling idea keeps your narrative on track and eliminates confusion.
Every paragraph I write, every idea I develop, every sentence I wordsmith points back to that one controlling idea.
Today I listened to a podcast interview by Donald Miller of Jamie Kern Lima where this concept shouted at me: “How to Overcome Your Fear of Selling.” The podcast covers the topic of how Jamie was able to push through her fears of selling to achieve success.
But my takeaway was different.
As I listened to Jamie’s incredibly story, I noticed how she took advantage of small increments of time on QVC to win customers. That one opportunity turned her small makeup company she started with no cash in her living room, to selling it to Loreal for 1.2 billion dollars!
And she did it with a controlling idea.
Let me set the stage for what I think was the climax of the narrative. The part where she was at a crossroads that led to either success or failure.
Jamie had spent 3 years attempting to get on QVC with her makeup line. She finally got her big shot, but it meant manufacturing 6000 units of concealer before her scheduled date.
With only $1000 in the bank, she had to apply for an SBA loan to cover her manufacturing costs. And get this – she got 22 “no’s” from banks before she finally got a “yes” from the 23rd bank!
To date, Jamie was selling 2-3 orders a day from her website. Now she had produced 6000 units of concealer for QVC. She knew she had to sell her product, or her company would go bankrupt.
But if that’s not enough pressure, get this …
QVC gave her 10 minutes.
QVC is live.
100 million homes.
There’s no script.
She had to sell a certain number of sales in the first 2 minutes or her time was reduced!
It was a one-time shot.
You succeed in 10 minutes or you don’t get asked back.
To “cut to the chase,” she succeeds! She sells out and goes on to do over 1000 lives shows with QVC. She’s personally sold over $1 billion dollars of product on live tv.
When Jamie was asked to talk about the one thing she would share with businesses from her experience, she says this:
[podcast 25–minute mark] “The fundamentals of sales are important. I think there are so many people that get so in the weeds of how they sell that they literally go out there and forget to tell people what their product is or why someone should care about it or what’s so good about it.”
She’s talking about a controlling idea.
“I would literally say what our product was every single time. And sometimes the host would like say what are you doing why are you wasting air time? Every single time I would say just [what our product is] even if I had aired a product 250 times already …”
Donald Miller adds: “You said something magical… Do not assume that whoever you’re talking to knows what you’re talking about. Don’t assume it. You gotta spell it out. A lot of times it’s the inferior product that’s communicated clearly that actually wins, and it’s a shame.”
A controlling idea.
Say it over and over again.
If you sell lawn services, and what gets your customers to buy is knowing they don’t have to sacrifice weekend time with their family doing yardwork because you’ll do it for them, say it over and over again. Don’t expect they’ll be impressed by your latest lawn mowing technique and superior equipment. They buy because they gain family time. Say it over and over again.
If you sell real estate, and you know your company’s biggest value for your customers is that you make an overwhelming process simple, say it over and over again.
For us at Ignite Marketing Co, we want to take the guesswork out of marketing. If that’s our controlling idea, I repeat it over and over again.
When I write a piece of content for a client, I define my controlling idea. It keeps me from drifting into confusion.
Repeating the same ideas over and over again in a disciplined manner is how you cut through the clutter and solidify your “what” and “why” in your customer’s mind. It’s an exercise of memorization and repetition. And it works every time.
This is the how the human brain works. People long to have messages simplified. Not because they’re lazy, but because the brain’s function is to take information and organize it in such a way that leads to action. If you do that work for your customers, they’ll stay engaged and follow your call to action.
Do this by repeating your controlling idea over and over again.
Once you know your controlling idea, it serves as a filter for the rest of your ideas. And you’re able to take a blank page and a brain full of information and narrow it down to a well-communicated piece of content.
Jamie makes a lot of other great points in the podcast interview that would be good to cover another day – like always knowing the why behind what you’re doing and finding a reason outside of yourself to keep you going beyond rejection after rejection. But those points don’t support my controlling idea – which is about defining your controlling idea. :) So, I’ll leave that example there to serve my point, and hope I didn’t lose you in the segue.
Marketing doesn’t have to be hard. We get it. We’ve been in your shoes. With 34+ years of experience and a proven marketing framework that has helped thousands of businesses succeed, we are ready to take the guesswork out of marketing for you. You deserve a marketing plan that works so you can get back to the business you enjoy.
Request a consultation today, get a plan, and grow your business.