Why you should STOP copying your competition
The old saying goes “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”, but when it comes to your marketing, it’s just NOT a good idea. For centuries, we’ve been using other’s ideas, creative, and art as inspiration for our own work – and that’s fine if it’s used to spark ideas of your own. BUT if you are just copying every move your competitors are making, you are just setting yourself up for failure.
At Red Barn, we love a good life hack or a process or software that helps us save time and energy, but when it comes to copying competitor’s content – we draw the line. Copying other’s content is a big no-no because it can actually hurt your marketing strategy and your business. Let’s go back to why you started your business, because you wanted it to be uniquely yours including your content. Here’s several reasons why copying your competition is just a recipe for disaster.
- They don’t know what they are doing either. Just because your competitor has interesting and flashy creative it doesn’t mean that it’s actually working. Unless you have access to their analytics to confirm, you could be making the same bad mistakes as your competition. Also, your competition could be just as clueless as you AND they also could be copying another competitor – and now it’s an endless cycle! No matter how good the creative seems, there is simply no guarantee it will work for you.
- You might have a different target audience. Every business has their own Target Client Profile – or target audiences. Your competition may actually be targeting a difference audience than you, and an audience that you have no intention of targeting. You and your competitors each have your own unique strategy in regard to targeting your audience, without knowing the thought and reasoning behind the marketing, you simply won’t know if that creative is appropriate for your audience.
- It doesn’t set you apart. Customers aren’t dumb, they will recognize if you are doing copycat marketing. Not only are you showing them that your business lacks creativity and is unable to promote your business in your own unique way, but by copying others you’re also not getting valuable data. You need to see what works and what doesn’t for your business and use your own data to adjust your marketing accordingly. Your marketing should be authentic and original to you and your business – that’s why your customers want to work with you – because of who you are.
- You’re limiting yourself and your marketing. Not only are you limiting your creative ability to target your prospective clients, but your creative won’t be nearly as effective as your competition because you won’t know exactly how to execute it like they do. If you have someone who does your marketing, you’ll also be limiting them and their creative ideas and expertise and producing great creative in the future.
- You are confusing your customers. You are not giving your business its own unique brand and identity. You’ll also confuse potential customers, as they will see the same style and messaging of creative from both you and your competitor.
- You don’t have the same budget or resources. Even though you have an idea of what your competition is doing, there may be a lot of software, staff, budget, or even a marketing company behind the scenes that are all working together.
Your competition’s content and marketing strategy may seem easy and obvious to you from the outside, but it could be very complex with a lot of systems running on the inside. The best content is fresh and new and also is optimized. You can’t emulate and replicate a company that has a full-time in-house content marketing team, in addition to external agencies or consultants, who also help with their content marketing when you are a small business on limited resources. It’s just not feasible.
What you should do instead of copying your competitors
- Determine your goals – create your own marketing strategy that will outline your own content creation, paid search, email, social media, SEO, social media, and design (digital and print). You should have a focus and target client for each of these channels. Some of your goals for social media may include increasing engagement on Facebook, driving more repeat traffic to your website, etc. Having your own goals and strategy will allow you to stick to your own plan and not follow your competition – which could conflict with your goals.
- Start using the right tools and people. To be efficient and productive you need to use the right tools. If you need to segment your email lists, then use an email marketing software that makes it easy. If you want to schedule social media out in advance, use a tool that lets you do that. And make sure you have the right people doing the right things. Don’t use staff who hate writing and have poor grammar to write your blogs. Use the best people for the job to create and execute your content marketing strategy – this could be an outside firm too if it’s something that can’t be managed in house. Learn to delegate when needed or when it makes sense.
- Do your research and don’t stop reviewing metrics. If you do your research right, you should be able understand some of the reasons why and how your competitors are doing what they are doing. You’ll also want to track your own metrics and adjust your marketing accordingly. Less traffic on LinkedIn and more on Facebook – boost your Facebook posts to capitalize. More email opens with specific topics or subject lines – adjust and implement more like those. You can also subscribe to email newsletters of your competitors so you can see what they are doing, how they onboard new subscribers, what their subject lines are, etc. You shouldn’t copy, but it’s a good idea to know what they are up to.
Don’t underestimate the damage that copying your competitor’s creative can cause when it comes to your marketing efforts. If you have questions or need some advice, give us call or send us an email. We love talking about this stuff!