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Innovation vs. Marketing Suicide

People often assume that the greatest entrepreneurs are those who invent and bring to market something entirely new that’s never existed before. So a lot of aspiring business owners think being successful means they have to be some kind of groundbreaking pioneer.  

But bringing a truly brand new product or service to the market is extremely rare and risky… and it’s actually not where the most opportunity is. 

In this video, I’m shining a light on what’s actually closer to the truth… and what I believe is the smartest approach when it comes to launching a product or service. 

You can watch here:

In this video, you’ll learn:

  • The truth about 99% of entrepreneurs out there (including me!)
  • Why it’s much smarter to innovate rather than try to bring something totally new
  • What resources you need to make true invention worth the risk

You may have noticed that even people we regard as business legends, like Henry Ford and Steve Jobs, talked about themselves as if they created something completely new. (They both claimed with a sense of pride that they didn’t really pay attention to what people wanted!) 

But in reality, they were really innovating more than straight-up inventing. 

The car and the assembly line already existed in Henry Ford’s time. He found a novel way to combine those two things to make assembling cars easier and buying cars affordable. 

Likewise, MP3 players and smartphones already existed when Steve Jobs introduced the iPod and then the iPhone in the early 2000s. Jobs created a way to make those products elegant, efficient, and indispensable for consumers.  

In other words, these famous inventors worked with what was already there and developed a better iteration. 

They were gifted at noticing what wasn’t working, where the gaps were, and how they could bring their “special sauce” to these products in a way that revolutionized how we saw and used them. 

Finding Your Fit in the Market

When you have a solid sense of the existing market, you know what people are already interested in and what problems they’re trying to solve. And when you know what your unique gifts are, then you can find fresh and imaginative ways to meet consumers where they are with better offerings.  

As always, I’d love to hear from you. If you have follow-up questions or want to share your own experience, leave a comment below and let me know what you think! 

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56 Replies to “Innovation vs. Marketing Suicide”

  1. Hi Jeff,

    Love the t-shirt (must admit – at first I thought it was an apron!). I am currently struggling with this on one of my businesses, which offers live online classes. There are people having success with this in traditional, 6-week courses for $97, etc. but we decided to focus on weekly live classes. But the attendance at these classes is not as high as we expected. Here we are trying to do something “different” based on a successful model, but I think we are leaning too much on the “innovation”. Moving forward, I want to have us revert more to the Evergreen model that’s working for others and then offer live calls every two or three weeks (similar to PLF) rather than making that the weekly class. In any case, love the video, love the examples (I’ve always used this in courses I teach too – but it’s great to hear it reinforced!). Thank you

    • Great stuff Jeff. I really like the way you think and present marketing. Totally agree which what you’re saying. Did the same thing when I was a 21 year old kid with my bricklaying company in the Netherlands. Made me a millionaire before I was 30.
      Use already some of your “tools”
      Love to sit down with you one day and have your input in what we’re doing.

  2. Great video Jeff and it really make sense because every person is unique so when we see something that works and people want it is ‘simple’ to add something unique to this and promote it.

    BTW, geat example of Steve Jobs and Henry Ford 🙂

  3. Hi Jeff thanks for the video – was great timing as your references were just what I was recently learning from Russel Brunson and Dan S Kennedy related to modelling others and what is already out there, adjust and innovate existing ideas / models but never start with a blank page.

    Cheers David

  4. Hey Jeff,

    Thanks for another inspiring and supportive video. I have been struggling a bit lately with my “fear storms” of “There are so many others doing what I do…” and not being able to quiet my mind enough to realize none of those other people are me. None of them can tell My story because it’s mine. My secret sauce. The very thing that will set me and why I do what I do, apart from the pack.

    I really appreciate the content you share and your book, Launch, helped me get over several hurdles.

    Thanks again and be well,


  5. Hi Jeff,

    I like the spirit in which you operate. Thanks for your great advice.

    Am feeling blessed.



  6. Wise counsel, Jeff. It is essential that we, as entrepreneurs, understand this to bring in that needed balance.

  7. Thank you for your encouragement.
    I love listening to your ideas and examples.

    Keep the amazing work 😉

  8. Jeff,
    Although I’m not an online entrepreneur (yet!) I’ve learned so much from you — a thousand thank-yous for what you offer. The encouragement in this video to be confident of my product, even if all the components aren’t completely new, is just what I needed right now. You’re the best!

  9. Hi Jeff thanks for the eye-opening video. Find what already sells and make it better. A great advice to follow.

  10. Jeff, thank you for validating that it’s my original iteration that creates value for people. My concern has been that I will be criticized for not having “invented” anything new in my approach to helping people overcome anxiety and depression. I know that my approach works better and faster than anything I’ve tested on the market. It is based on ancient technologies of uncovering your authentic self–which I did not invent. But I researched and applied them extensively and boiled them down in the “secret sauce” of my unique experience. Bottom line, people get great results, I’m having the time of my life brining my method to people, and no one else does it the way I do (therefore, I have no competition). Thank you for confirming for me that THIS IS the real value.

  11. I can suffer from the “oh, that was MY great idea, and someone else has already put it out there, so I’m too late” syndrome.

    The perspective you bring here, Jeff, certainly helps with that. It’s a GOOD thing the idea is out there — especially if it’s a product that’s selling! — since it proves there’s a market for it. And you don’t have to be/shouldn’t try to be/probably can’t afford to be first.

  12. This is an insight that needs to be articulated more often. That so-called “secret sauce” is elusive for anyone who harbors doubts about being comfortable in their own skin. Lurking, half-conscious beliefs around being too anything–too old, too fat, too uneducated, etc, can hide your secret sauce from the world, in which case, if success does come, you’ll always feel like a fraud because you’re hiding your authentic self in the process. You may even feel you became successful BECAUSE you put on a fake persona. Better to be yourself from the get-go. I do believe this is more than half of Jeff’s success. His PLF formula is tremendous, but the attractiveness of his authentic person is in my opinion a huge factor in his success.

  13. Love the reference to niche marketing not requiring YOU to have actually created the niche, personally. That is often a recipe for disaster, and I appreciate you reminding me of that. I prefer a concept that I call “Match to Sample”, i.e. find something that another human being is already doing well, then tweak it. And I really like your reference to the “secret sauce” being … YOU! Our own personal touches to meet the needs or wants of our “tribe members” with whom we connect. I’m with Mike Mintz on the T-Shirt looking like you were going to give a lesson about BBQ grilling, sporting an apron. Thank you for the inspiration!

  14. Great advice! Yes, as a pioneer in my industry, I am looking for ways to improve the way we do business. I appreciate your insight and encouragement. Thank you for sharing this, Jeff.

  15. Cheryl McLaughlin


    Ah, Jeff. I so agree. I was part of creating a new field and early on, I painfully discovered that I was often 7 years too early with my products and services. Managing that balance between creating the new field and timing the introduction of services and products has been challenging with lots of lessons learned along the way.
    Your tips, here, are important and valuable.

  16. Three things:
    1. i needed to hear that i don’t have to invent something NEW in order to offer value. Thank you!
    2. i needed to be encouraged – which you have a natural way of doing. Thank you!
    3. i want one of those shirts…it slightly distracted me, to be honest 🙂
    Blessings Jeff – keep these videos coming!

  17. Hi Jeff!
    I love your authenticity! Your t-shirt called my attention! 🙂
    Thank you for the video! Yes, I am going to spend sometime looking for my idea which for sure is already out there. You brought a great concept : I should not be afraid of looking into what my competition is doing… actually it can be very positive and help me to improve my business idea. Thanks!

  18. Awesome Jeff! You just taught me that I am not a trailblazer after all. A better way to position parent coaching for parents of teenagers Is suddenly so simple!

    Simply stated, I am an educator. My subject matter is parenting. With this description, suddenly it seems completely obvious that we would all have educators for such an important subject! Everyone who places a high priority on raising their kids would want a masters degree level education.

    Great stuff, my man!!!

  19. Jeff, Y
    Your videos are always fantastic, among my favorites. But the cool thing is I often learn more from how you say it than what you say. Hats off to the master!

  20. Jeff,
    As always a great video. Short and to the point, presented in a calm manner without hype. I always enjoy them and learn something. It’s clear that you enjoy sharing these ideas…and it’s GENUINE.

    Have a great weekend. You deserve it.


  21. Love this: “Henry Ford didn’t invent the car… but he created a car people could af-FORD.” 🙂 Great work, Jeff!

  22. I wonder if it is at all possible (working within the limitations of the human mind) to actually invent “anything” that is NOT building on an already existing concept created by either God, the universe, nature, (animals and insects) or another person.

    Even dating back as far as the beginning of mankind, can anyone think of anything our ancestors may have created that was not merely based on “making something better”? rather than coming up with a totally new concept?

    Today in marketing, as for Jeff’s PLF, it’s definitely a brilliant example of using the old Recording Artist launch concept from the music industry, where “hype” is built up by telling the public that an Artist is in the studio recording an album right now (a year in advance), and that the Album will “drop” on a certain date (sometime next year). Meanwhile a “buzz” is created, and thus you ended up seeing a line up at the door of record stores, usually going all the way around the corner on the day of an album release.

    But at least PLF is not just another eBook, course, or IM Blog talking about the same old IM concepts.
    I think that this is where marketers need to start becoming more creative and think outside the box when dreaming up something new to present to the world.

    A large percentage of current product launches (in the IM niche) make me yawn. Many of them are straight up copies of other products, and cover the same topics . Can we maybe get a tad more creative in this niche? Is that too much to ask?

  23. Jeff,

    This is totally cool video. My takeaway from this video would be it’s such an interesting discovery that , there are so many ways that we can ‘better’ the things that are already there.

    We can experiment with videos, inforgraphics, membership courses and what not. Creativity and research – When they marry each other , usually the door to success opens !

  24. The world needs both inventors and innovators, but I think I get your point: to succeed in business does not require that you have a new invention, and it is less risky to be an innovator than an inventor.

  25. When I first clicked on to this page… I thought you were wearing an apron in your video.

    Nope…. just a really trendy shirt.

    Jeff…. keepin’ it real.

  26. Your t-shirts are amazing 🙂 I love your stuff because you’re always subliminally and blantently reminding me to be myself 😉
    I am unique and I bring my specialness to what I create and improve upon (this week’s affirmation!) Thanks Jeff!!!

  27. Jeff,
    Love your videos and PLF…looking forward to your PLF conference this fall….
    With multiple patents ranging from a medical positioning device, to a modified LED lighting, to multiple recreational fishing products, my family story includes taking what works, but inventing what would make it better; a spot on life experience to what you described in this video- to not deviate too far from what customers are able to understand and ready to embrace.
    Though traveling to the premier fishing industry tradeshow called, ICAST in Orlando, I am glad I took the time to watch your great video tonight….well said. Thanks for PLF …so glad I found you through Michael Hyatt.

  28. Hey Jeff! Thanks for the words of wisdom as always! You are so right, sometimes people try so hard to create something new that they set themselves up for failure. Building upon the ideas of others is true innovation and really only happens in collaboration with others.

    Thanks for all you do. Keep killin’ it!

  29. Hey, what would you say to a shy introvert who is scared of putting themselves out there. Who really isn’t the type to just blether to any random stranger. Is there a marketing way for them?

    • @Nicola: Well I’m not about to tell anyone what exact path to follow… but I would say that I’m an introvert. And many (possibly most) of the people I know who are building a platform online are introverts.

  30. Thank you for your wise business thoughts from the heart. Always look forward to your blog videos!
    With Gratitude!

  31. Jeff,
    I appreciate your technique and I do think product launch is an art, and there is something there that I definitely not have understood yet because I am struggling with that aspect of things. Nevertheless, I do know of innovation and start-ups. I believe that you are correct in saying that innovations are improvements on the existing, and not anything radically “new”. I also agree with Steve Jobs and Henry Ford when they say “don’t ask the public what they want”. Well, don’t ask in words. Ask through your innovative offering. I also believe that in every case, the motivation CANNOT be to be “successful” or to make millions of dollars. It MUST be about conviction that what you are doing and offering is right, and knowing WHY it is right. Market adjustments to be made must be within the boundaries of this conviction. Personal conviction is what these great innovators had. It is also what John Lennon or Bob Dylan had, that allowed them to offer great and innovative music. It is also what Roger Federer and Lionel Messi have that makes them express themselves so well. Athletes, artists, lawyers… are all start-uppers at one point, and those who make believe in their offering, their expression, whether they end up making millions, or just paying the bills isn’t as important to any of them as KNOWING that what they are doing is “the right thing”.

  32. Great insights, again. Another vote for the ‘apron’ illusion, but that’s been said 🙂

    I’m a guy speaking to a 99% female audience and I’m really working to find my secret sauce. It’s been my growth edge on this project, and I’m sticking in there all the way to the end because this project is a mission for the 2nd half of my life.

    PLF has been such a part of my online adventures – thanks for keeping this blog going. The videos are always a great boost – tactically and emotionally.

  33. Hello Jeff,
    In the spirit of sports talk radio listeners, frequent viewer, first time comment poster.
    Every once in a while I come up with an amazing idea and thought, only to kick myself soon after and remember that someone else has thought of it before. But much of what has led to your success, Jeff, is what I hope will lead to mine, and that is a genuine presentation of those ideas, a way that draws in a person and keeps them connected in a way that wants them to come back for more. And as you stated in a previous video, regardless of how much money you make or success that you have, you plan on continuing to do this because it is what drives you every day, and I plan on that as well! Well done, Jeff.
    Cheers, Mark

  34. Jeff: As always, to the point, interesting and with just enough “secret sauce” to make the message you. Has me thinking a bit deeper. Thanks.

  35. TVS Subramanian


    Your views on invention vis-a-vis innovation are content rich and listening to these ideas are feasts for the mind.

  36. As always, good points Jeff. Being in the business of assisting people bringing their products to market, its always a challenge to explain Iterative thinking to the Clients. They don’t have to have the newest grapple grommet to do well. Lets just improve on what is already there and market and sell it better.

  37. Hi Jeff, Just wanted to say THANK YOU. I have just finished reading your PLF book and am experimenting with my first SEED launch this week. I’m really enthusiastic about it; it’s provided a straight-forward framework for me to get some traction with my marketing and products created with customer insight and direction. I’m not a success story yet, but looking forward to being one with the help of your approach. 🙂

  38. Been stuck like 4Ever on pause; with all the data, input, information, strategies, techniques & formulas (that I thrive from) in my head yet feeling lost to an entry point to Creation. I want to yell “Who turned on the lights” Duh.. Two books just popped into my head with your answer (insight) written all over it. Acres of Diamond ~Russell Conwell & The Alchemist~Paulo Coelho…. Thank you Jeff!

  39. So true… I believe it was Ghandi who said, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

    I think that comes with any amount of change or innovation that disrupts the status quo that an incumbent strives to maintain.

    As for people knowing what they want – it’s well documented that the brain isn’t very good at communicating that sort of thing. So no, nobody told Jobs that’s exactly what they wanted, not explicitly anyway. But if we’re looking at the proper signals, we understand that’s what they can’t put to words.
    Then we create it.

  40. Wow Jeff it’s like this video was made for me. At 63 yrs young I sold my business and went back to school to become a certified life coach. During that time I went through quite a process to understand who is my target audience when I realized I could take the concept of coaching and make it affordable for the masses. On top of that I realized that most life coaches have never been entrepreneurs before and they basically just want to coach. Over dinner one night with 7 other coaches, imagine seeing a person with a lightbulb go on above there head. This was means Up All Night Coaching was invented. Well as you said, I didn’t invent the concept but in those few minutes I took something and voilà a new and unique concept was born. Now 7 months later we are going to launch and I can truly say I am finally living my dream. So thanks for the video it just confirmed I’ve been on the right track.

  41. oh look … Jeff is having his middle age crisis: ‘ I’m not sure I invented…’ what ? you did invent a thinking-process that changed economics in the web… you are responsible for this expansion of richness, you are responsible for so much abundance…
    oh please… without inventors there would not be… all this. steve jobs did not invented the mp3 as a machine, but he surely invented it for our human use… einstein did not invented physics, but he invented something. inventors exist.
    ” war is business of the young, peace is the business of the old ” Lawrence of Arabia.
    the fear of risk is a viral fear that impounds the rich at some time… coincidentally people suffer elsewhere
    when those that have solved their local decides not to invent no more for those abstract invisible remote people.
    in japan the creative force artist behind those ‘zen gardens’ is a monk that does not mold the rock,
    does not creates the sand, does not create anything, he just brings all that stuff to the place, puts them together
    and ‘zen garden’. invention is a misused word in your present speech, cause it is really conecting disparate ideas
    from remote parts of the perception brain together.
    ” risk is our business ” Kirk.
    if this vision of the risky world beyond clouds may interest, please contact me ! (( prove me wrong that you do read comments.
    lets iterate and invent at the same time a moviemaking! from screenplay teacher

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