The Inception Guide To Marketing

A while back there was a film called Inception. You should see it. Oh, and if you haven’t seen it, there are no spoilers here.

But here’s an important lesson in the movie for marketers.

green leafed plant in egg shell
Plant an Idea

In the film, Cobb (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) is talking about the act of “inception”—planting an idea in another person’s mind.

Here’s what Cobb says:

“What’s the most resilient parasite? An idea. A single idea from the human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules.”

What this means to marketers (or to anyone who wants to spread their ideas) should be obvious: once you have planted an idea in the minds of your audience, it’s very, very difficult for that idea to be dislodged.

This is why, for example, in a courtroom there is an advantage to telling your side of the story first: the weight of the idea you planted in the jury’s mind is hard for your opponent to overcome.

woman placing sticky notes on wall

The more powerfully and indelibly you can imprint your idea on a large number of minds, the more influence you have. This is the “secret” behind clichés, stereotypes, and proverbs.

For instance, the advice “look before you leap” is a powerful way of simply and briefly summing up a powerful idea, and that maxim influences many of us when we are about to make a crucial decision.

The only way to counteract a powerful idea like “look before you leap” is with another idea just as powerful: “he who hesitates is lost”.

Your goal as a marketer should be to plant your ideas early and often.

Here’s the takeaway:

  1. Formulate your idea simply and memorably (“Delivering Happiness”, “Getting Things Done”, “Unleashing the IdeaVirus”).
  2. Put your idea into distributable form.
  3. Encourage the free and massive distribution of your idea.

I know… the question burning in your mind is, “But how do I make money doing that?”

Good question—with many answers. Three short ones:

  1. You make money explaining the idea. (No matter how simple it is, people will always want you to explain it, and they will pay you to do so.)
  2. You’ve told people what to do (your idea)—now tell them how to do it (and charge them).
  3. Leverage the Authority gained from spreading the idea into other, profitable jobs, gigs, and businesses.
assorted-color pencil

Your Mission…

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: start spreading your idea far and wide—and have a plan for monetizing the harvest of that idea.

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Armand Morin

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