Get Your Butt in Here and Give Me a “NOT-New” Idea or You’re Fired!

By: Dan Kennedy on: September 15th, 2009 6 Comments

Fantasy Island was Love Boat on ground. Two And A Half Men is a sad copy of The Odd Couple.

The Apprentice is Survivor. American Idol is half Gong Show, half Star Search.

Movie output features comic books and remakes of old TV shows. There’s no welcome mat at movie or TV studios for original ideas. Such things are very rare and must fight to survive.

The demand heard, as soon as there’s a success is “give me a copy of that but different.” FOR GOOD REASON. Entertainment industry leaders recognize the heightened risks of leadership, and much prefer the less hazardous pursuit of mimicry, riding rather than creating trends, re-labeling, re-cycling. In some instances their theft is blatant and obvious.

In other cases, less noticeable to the public but easily recognized by insiders.

The point is, you never need to invent or create from scratch (this is true in small business marketing also)- and are very rarely if ever able to profit by doing so if you insist on trying.

Sure, there are “originals” that turn into huge hits.

As David Carradine’s character in Kill Bill points out, Superman is a unique original amongst all comic book superheroes, because he is an alien from outer space and his real self is Superman; Clark Kent is his alter-ego. He wakes up as Superman and dons a fake, mouse-ish, blend-in Clark Kent costume and persona (also his critique of the human race). The others are reversed.

Bruce Wayne is his real self; he must don costume to become Batman. Peter Parker is his real self; he must don costume to be Spiderman. Etc. But, were we to set out today to create a new superhero, were we to play the odds, we would not attempt another Superman; we would attempt another Iron Man, Batman, Spiderman, Daredevil, etc.

We would opt for the frequently, repeatedly, consistently winning formula – not the odd freak success. We would extract and identify the key elements found in common in the majority of the successful superheroes and then build a new one with that same list. At end, we’d try plus-ing it.

This is the smartest way to build a successful ad or sales letter or marketing campaign, product or service or entire business. Not with new ideas. With different ideas that are the same as the ideas found in common in numerous proven winners spanning a long period of time in our category.

No, you won’t wind up with Superman or Disneyland or Nutri-Systems Weight Loss For Men that way. But you might still wind up with a monster hit like American Idol, the #1 franchise on TV, with repeated predecessors dating all the way back to the very start of television, with the Ted Mack Amateur Hour. And if you do not get an American Idol-sized hit, you are most likely to at least get a victory.

In my NO B.S. BUSINESS SUCCESS book, I talk about how most entrepreneurs are not so much risk-TAKERS as they are risk-MANAGERS. Yes, Iacocca impulsively okayed putting a convertible back on the road. But he came from Ford, where both the Mustang and T-Bird convertibles had been huge successes. Let’s give him all the credit due but no more credit than is due.

I am conservative. When I set out to “create” product, business, campaign, ad, direct-mail, pretty much anything I go through the very un-creative process of assembling the common ingredients and elements from many prior successes in that category, to stitch into my quilt.

I build lists of what needs to be included. I stitch together proven winners into one. At end, I might try to also plus it. THE BIG IDEA is not to have a new idea! And make no mistake, the profit’s in implementation, not invention, with rare exception.


Dan Kennedy is internationally recognized as the 'Millionaire Maker,' helping people in just about every category of business turn their ideas into fortunes. Dan's "No B.S." approach is refreshing amidst a world of small business marketing hype and enriches those who act on his advice. For more money-making marketing tips, tactics and strategies, go to

6 Responses

  1. Margaret says:

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  2. Rob Anspach says:

    …creating a new never seen or heard product from scratch takes too long and too much risk… but taking a lesser known product and changing the marketing & tweaking the packaging can have dramatic impact and make you more money.

  3. I was just talking with a guy yesterday at the Blog Expo in Vegas. He had appeared on The Big Idea! I have lots of big ideas; Somebody book me!

  4. Rob Anspach says:

    … the other day I spent 12 hours just reading marketing books, then spent another several hours outlining copy and my brain was wired… I couldn’t get to sleep…

    help me I have sleep deprived marketing syndrome…

    … but I got lots of ideas out of it.

  5. Idea People: We are Cursed! At least we can amuse ourselves while we wait to monetize because we are too A.D.D. to complete a project.

  6. Rob Anspach says:

    thats true most entrepreneurs have some sort of ADD – we are great at coming up with ideas, and its not for lack of action that the ideas dont get done… its lack of cooperation from others that just dont see our clear vision…

    so we struggle, and sometimes are ideas are easy to implement without others, but most times we have such fantastic ideas that we need a highly motivated group to help us make our ideas a reality

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