I love black cats. In fact, I own two of them. I adopted them from the local animal shelter after we lost two black kittens to a disease called FIP. My current felines are black cats number five and six. Yes I have really owned that many.
Why do I like black cats so much? They are typically ignored at the shelters and they have very nice personalities. They are very similar and I’m generally safe in adopting one because I know the temperament will be consistent.
But as much as I love my black kitties, they are not unique. The last two were adopted in a package deal of two cats, neutered with immunizations for $39. That is cheap – really cheap. I can find a black cat anywhere and most likely it will be just as nice as the last one six I’ve adopted.
My love of black cats brought my wondering mind to the world of copycat marketing.
What is Copycat Marketing?
It is exactly what is sounds like. You’re running your marketing campaigns based on that of your competition. If your competitor goes to a trade show, you do too. If your competitor builds a new website, you build one just like it. If your competitor sends out six email blasts a month, you do the same.
While there are many websites professing the wonders of such tactics, copycat marketing can do a lot more damage than good.
Is Copycat Marketing Ever Advantageous?
When I first launched our business I looked around at other firms and tried to learn from them. I tried to figure out what marketing tactics were successful and I used this as a guide to help me get my feet wet.
While I wasn’t new to marketing, I was new to this whole entrepreneurship thing. I used this process to validate what I thought we should do and honestly just to build my confidence up a bit.
Before long I realized I knew what I was doing and I didn’t have to copy another firm. That moment was a moment of marketing clarity and it was when our firm started to really shine.
Why Should You Avoid Copycat Marketing
Copying another company’s marketing strategy is fairly ineffective. I used it at the beginning of our launch just to get my bearings. I knew in my heart it was not a long-term strategy.
Copycat marketing is dangerous and here is why:
- It is hard to differentiate yourself from the competition.
- It stifles innovation.
- It stifles creativity.
- It forces you to chase the competition while never allowing you to actually beat them.
- It prohibits strategic planning and long-term marketing efforts.
- It reduces your ability to establish a unique brand, because you’re basing your efforts on someone else’s brand.
- It stifles growth because you are one of many.
- It makes it difficult to focus on your goals and your obectives.
Had I continued to rely on copycat marketing efforts, I would have prevented our firm from finding our own brand and our own identity. I would never have discovered our sweet spot and I would have lost the opportunity for growth.
Copycat Marketing is Plentiful
Today I see other companies mimicking what we do and this is fine. Imitation is the greatest form of flattery, so I really don’t mind.
What I find painful is the inquiries we receive for website design that are entirely based on copycat marketing tactics. So many people want to be make millions from the internet, but they plan on doing so by copying someone else. They want the exact same WordPress theme or website design as another company or blogger. All so they can follow behind their competition and not really compete with it.
Some of these people have really good ideas, products, or services. But you’ll never know it, because everything they want to do is based off of someone else’s marketing efforts. It is sad, frustrating, and it breaks my heart.
I want to stand on top of my desk and shout don’t do it. But I can’t quite do that. Instead I try to steer them towards uniqueness and something memorable. I tried to guide them towards long-term success by asking about their website goals and their marketing objectives.
Are You a Copycat?
If you’ve read this post and you’ve realized that you’re in copycat mode, take a moment and regroup. Grab some catnip, reenergize yourself, and focus on your unique branding. Think hard about what will help you stand out from the competition.
That is how you win.