The 4-Hour Workweek Sold 1.3 Million Copies Thanks To A “Big Idea”

Four years on the NYT Best Seller List.
Translated into 35 languages.
Over 1.3 million copies sold… and counting.

Not bad for a first-time author.

Everyone knows there’s no such thing as an overnight success. Except in this case. Tim Ferriss found proverbial gold at the end of a rainbow on his very first go.

So what’s the magic trick?

You probably think it’s due to the backing of a large publishing company. Or the extensive promotional activities utilizing a vast network of bloggers. Or maybe even because it was simply “well written”. (Wired magazine described it as “formulaic writing”.)

In fact, it’s none of those things.

Whilst having a big launch definitely doesn’t hurt, the single biggest reason the book was a success is the “Big Idea” behind it.

Read through the 432 pages and you’ll see it really just boils down to one thing – the topic of outsourcing. But it’s not the only book on this topic.

Here’s what an Amazon search shows:

There are over 10,000 hits for “outsourcing” listed over 100 pages.

“outsourcing”
“outsourcing”
“outsourcing”

Bet you’ve never heard of them, right?

Why?

Because none of the other books have anything to differentiate them from the millions of others on the same topic.

The concept of a “Big Idea” isn’t new

The “father of advertising”, David Ogilvy of worldwide media giant Ogilvy & Mather, said in 1958:

quote

But what makes an idea successful?

– It promises something amazing;
– It invokes an emotional response;
– It can be quickly and easily understood;
– And most importantly, it has to be unique.

Tim Ferriss took that message to heart, applied it to his book , and reaped the benefits.

In just four little words, “The 4-Hour Workweek” conveys something that…

The reader has dreamed about for years…
Gives them hope about permanently escaping the 9-5 rat race…
Makes so much “sense” they’re unconsciously nodding in agreement…
And is packaged up like nothing they’ve ever seen before.

As they say, the rest is history.

What happens without a “Big Idea”?

The “Big Idea” provides the direction and vision for a campaign. Without it, you’re just “flying blind” rely purely on luck.

Your copy comes out weak…
Your offer becomes mediocre…
Your message fade into obscurity…
You end up forgotten and unknown…

Just like the 10,000+ other books on outsourcing.

But smart marketers don’t do that.

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