1. The $2bn sales letter

The most successful sales letter ever written had no headline, bullet points or flashy promises. It told a simple story, and generated $2bn in subscriptions for The Wall Street Journal. This is how it begins:
On a beautiful late spring afternoon, twenty-five years ago, two young men graduated from the same college. They were very much alike, these two young men. Both had been better than average students, both were personable and both – as young college graduates are – were filled with ambitious dreams for the future.
You’re hooked, aren’t you? I was. The letter shows the incredible power of storytelling. So what’s your story?

2.  The Big Idea that nobody wanted

If you use a free webmail service, you probably wonder how you ever did without it. It’s always on, and accessible from anywhere. What could be easier? It’s such an obvious idea. But it wasn’t – at least in the mid-90s, when twenty venture-capital firms rejected the idea proposed by Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith. Twenty. And yet Hotmail went on to become one of the fastest product adoptions of all time. Just two months after launch, it had 100,000 users. And thanks to the master-sroke of putting ‘Get your free e-mail at Hotmail.com’ at the end of mesages, the system went viral. Within 18 months, it had 12 million users. So what’s your Big Idea?

3. These boots were made for walking (all the way to the bank)

Oprah bought 350 pairs for her production crew. Pamela Anderson was a big fan. And no self-respecting Sloane Ranger would wear anything else when they’re strutting their stuff down the King’s Road in London. And yet until the mid 90s, Ugg boots were virtually unkown – outside of Australia and New Zealand, that is. They’d been around since the 1920s, and were perfect for the rough terrain of outback. They were also the favoured footwear among swimmers and surfers, being warm and water-repellent. More function than fashion. So what changed? Marketing, pure and simple. When Deckers Outdoor Corporation bought Ugg Australia in 1995, they set about making Ugg the must-have fashion item.  They sold them in limited quantities through up-market chains like Norsdtrom in the US. And they seeded them to celebrities. Kate Hudon wore them. So did Kim Cattrall and Jessica Simpson. And today, the Ugg business turns over hundreds of million of dollars. A far cry from their humble beginnings in the parched vastness of the Aussie outback. So what could you turn into a global phenomenon? Find out more: