The Big Idea Story Framework

How to tell stories that change the world

Ben Putano


Today's lesson is a preview of the Strategic Writing course.

"Those who tell the stories rule the world."

No one actually knows who first said this (I've seen it ascribed to both Plato and an African proverb), but it remains truer than ever.

In a world of endless options and opportunity, your story is the only thing that separates you from your competitors.

So let's make sure your story is a huge hit.

Founders need to master many stories, including their origin story, customer journey, and mission.

But one story is more important than the rest: Your Big Idea.

Your Big Idea is the insight that will change your customer's life, and possibly the world. It's the skill, knowledge, strategy, or mindset that makes you better than the rest.

Every great business is built on a Big Idea.

  • HubSpot = Inbound marketing
  • Apple = Great design (and now, security)
  • Harley Davidson = Freedom
  • Amazon = Best customer shopping experience in history
  • Shopify = Arm the rebels (against the Amazon Empire)

But you can't just slap your Big Idea on a billboard and expect people to buy in. You need to prove that your Big Idea is truly different, important, and feasible. Most of all, your Big Idea needs to be inspiring.

I've written Big Idea stories for dozens of startups. But for years, I told these stories on intuition.

It wasn't until I studied the work of author Ryan Holiday and editor Shawn Coyne that a framework started to emerge.

Today, I use the following story structure to share my Big Ideas:

  1. Hook
  2. Customer's Goal
  3. Customer Obstacles
  4. Old Way
  5. New Way
  6. Big Idea
  7. Evidence of Big Idea (Pathos, logos, and ethos arguments)
  8. Objections
  9. Concrete Steps
  10. Expand utility
  11. Caveats
  12. Customer Transformation
  13. Callback to the Hook
  14. Call to Action/Segue to Next Chapter

The Big Idea Story Framework works on the macro AND micro level.

I use this structure to outline the Big Idea of every book Damn Gravity writes and publishes. We also use it to outline the individual chapters.

But you can also use this framework to craft a Twitter thread or blog post. Big Ideas don't need to take up a lot of space to be powerful.

Most of us don't have ambitions to rule the world, but we all need to tell great stories to carve out our niche in the market.

Become the defacto #1 choice in your industry by sharing (and delivering on) the biggest Big Idea.

✏️ Exercise: Customer Transformation

Finding your Big Idea starts with identifying the transformation you want to make in your customers' lives.

Ask yourself: How will my customer's life be better after using my product/service?

Once you know this answer, you can work backwards to develop your Big Idea, build evidence, and tell a story that inspires your customer to action.

Want to learn exactly how to use the Big Idea Story Framework?

Sign up for the Strategic Writing course

🚀 GFW Book Launch Meetup + Workshop (Join me!)

Great Founders Write officially launches next Friday, December 9!

(But here's a secret... You can get the book right now)

Free Writing Workshop + Meetup 👇

Celebrate with me on Friday, December 9 at 10am CT.

We'll chat about the book, plus do a free writing workshop and writing exercise.

Would love to see you there!

Register for Book Launch Meetup (Free)