December 18, 2017

Your next big idea might be right under your nose…or in a drawer somewhere…or filed away in something called a file cabinet…or simply sitting on your hard drive.The alternate subject line for this post, which also happens to be the title of one of my favorite books by Jay Abraham, isGetting Everything You Can Out Of All You’ve Got. 

The premise: When brainstorming with yourself about that next big idea, think deeply and initially about assets you already own and control before thinking about trying to attain new assets. 

I think the biggest reason I am a “mastermind junkie”—and why I love being in rooms where everyone is there to get smarter–is to have others I trust and admire tell me things I can’t see (and will never see) about my life and my business.

I think that’s true for most people who love masterminds—they love to receive this kind of candid feedback.

Having sat on many “hot seats” in masterminds over the years (and participating in the audience for hundreds more hot seahelping others seek the “wisdom of the room”), it’s often shocking how obvious the answer is for us when the problem seemed so daunting at the outset.

And the answer (or answers) usually revolve around using resources that are right at your fingertips as a first step.

I have taken Jay’s lessons and the lessons learned from those hot seats and incorporated them into my thinking whenever I am trying to help someone else… or trying to help myself.

Again, the first step is to go deep on “assessing your assets.”

Start by asking, “what are all of the things you have access to or own which have already been written, developed, curated…probably with a sunk cost?”

Of course we should all think big and look beyond where we have been and where we are presently.

But that doesn’t mean you should ever ignore everything you have built, created and achieved until this point…and in fact, it is all that stuff that can propel you even further in the future.

There will be more than enough time to explore the new and exciting (and unknown)–but looking at what is already there is where you begin.

I know it sounds stupidly simple.

Hopefully it will be helpful to you if we focus on three areas with some simple questions you can ask yourself regarding the inventory you own before you go shopping for new stuff…

1. Lists

-How many active or previous customers do you have on a list somewhere/anywhere?

-How many people can you reach who know you, your products, or your service who have not bought from you in the past but still might “take your call” (e.g. open an email from you because it’s from you)?


2. Content

-What content do you own or have the ability to use on an unlimited basis?

-What products do you own or have access to that have relevance (or once had relevance)?


3. Promotions

-What previous winners do you have in your swipe file that have been retired?

-What previous “almost winners” or winners in a different medium than a medium you are looking at using currently are sitting in that same swipe file?


These questions only scratch the surface.

I have used the term “go after the low hanging fruit” way too much over the years and have now replaced that with something like, “let’s focus on what we have vs. what we don’t have first.”


List inventory 

I can’t tell you how many times someone tells me about their next big idea and the first thing they do is talk about extravagant marketing plans which includes promoting to HUGE audiences who have no idea who they are and know nothing about their history or track record.

I know you are well aware that “warm traffic” is more responsive than “cold traffic”…but you would be amazed how many people go after the shiny object (e.g. “cold traffic from the millions on Facebook”) before the “boring” previous buyers and prospects who know and love them already.

The reason they give for going outside before looking inside is usually a version of the following (for example):

“I have 3,000 people who know me and love me (and some have even sent me a check)…but I want this new product to be BIG!”

​I maintain that you will get bigger faster (and prove any concept with more confidence)  by going a mile deep with those “3,000”  first rather than going a mile wide in another medium as your initial focus.

Whether you sell business-to-consumer like I did for the company I helped build (which sold millions of subscriptions and books “$39 at a time”) or whether you sell business-to-business at much higher prices, the philosophy is the same.

Mining your “house list” first in as many ways you can think of (e.g. different offers to different segments, special copy based on interest areas etc.) will be the foundation of your business; and after you prove the new idea with those folks, there will be more than enough time (with a lot less risk) to go after the millions of new people who can’t wait to hear from you too.

But take care of those who love you the most first.

And by “love” I mean anyone you might have touched in the past whether they bought from you or not.

Also, always look at the economics of being big in a smaller, niche market you are already a hero to (and who will probably spend more with you) vs. being small in a larger, broad market who has never heard of you.

It’s worth doing the math.


Content Inventory 

This is a resource we all take for granted…and it’s so easy to think that once it’s been printed or sent in an email you can’t use it again.

The term “repurposing content” has nothing to do with “selling or distributing the same stuff over and over again to people who can’t remember if they bought it or consumed it.”

It has everything to do with “good material is always worth repeating”…and updating…and thereby transforming previously used information into new information.

Simply put, before creating anything new from scratch, see what you have already that can be repurposed powerfully.


Promotion Inventory 

Anything that has worked well in the past for you or someone else should never die.

While I had very little luck in my career simply taking a huge winner from years past and just reusing it after simply giving it a rest, I have had winner after winner by repeating copy platforms, headline structures and some previously used promotion copy…most often with new and re-structured offers too.

I’ll need to do a post just about the power of swipe files in the near future…it’s one that has been percolating for a while.

​Short version of that future post about the power of assembling a swipe file: You can look at winners from others and “steal smart” (i.e. adapt winning formulas to whatever you might be working on yourself).​


“Stealing is a felony…stealing smart is an art”–that will be the subject line for that post so stay tuned.


Thanks for opening this email and reading it…I knew I had a better shot with you than a stranger!






P.S. Being the shepherd of Gene Schwartz’s classic books, Breakthrough Advertising and The Brilliance Breakthrough, is a privilege I do not take lightly.

I recently spent some time with Gene’s wife Barbara (who is still a force in the world of modern art) and she cannot believe the appetite for Gene’s work so many years after his passing.

And we were both feeling so much gratification that a new generation of copywriters and marketers are discovering the genius in these two masterpieces by one of the greatest marketing minds and copywriters who has ever lived.

And when I told her I have shipped books to people in over 25 countries around the world that astounded her more than anything.

I hope you have picked up your copies already…I still have inventory.

Hundreds have bought the new editions of both books to date and the stories about how they are applying the principles and exercises will be worth sharing with you sometime in the near future.


P.P.S. Those of you who are new to my online family and are unfamiliar with this Renaissance Man of direct response, please go to and put “Gene Schwartz” or “genius” or “brilliance” in the search bar to learn more.

About the author 

Brian Kurtz

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