Are you blindly copying your competitors?

Those who followed the Pied Piper, disappeared….

A newbie in the marketing field, trying to set your sails can be tough. Far more tough can be to resist digging up the treasure troves your competitors are seemingly guarding. Mimicking can be the deadliest temptation, and yes, you have to be careful not to fall straight into the trap.

Let’s for a wee second, jog your memory. Is the tale of six blind people going to see an elephant still fresh in your mind? Poor creature! What all did it not look like- a snake, a wall, a tree, a rope, a spear, a mat…and with god’s grace there were only six people. The magnitude of wild speculations aren’t this limited when it comes to the world of marketing. The blinds will try to debate less and simply follow the other blinds. For the time being, let us simply try to address the elephant in the room.

Did I just talk about blind people going to “see” an elephant? Exactly what happens in real-world marketing when you clap your eyes on the obvious and miss out on the essentials. Here’s one caveat even before you embark on the journey! Do not try to fit into the template already created by your competitors. With time, you might realize that it is just a narrow mold where your marketing may succumb to insignificance.

True, many bigs brands have become what they are by following the mammoth footprints of their predecessors. But we never know whether they were simply trailblazing or creating additional paths for themselves at the same time.

Speculations apart, here are certain potholes you should look out for, before following the trails of your competitors-

1. Typecast alert: You are surrounded by intelligent audiences, who can spot similar content and call it out. Your creativity gets questioned, right there. Not only that, your capacity to experiment and venture on something new misses an opportunity.

2. Deceptive conversion rate: Do NOT be befuddled by the conversion rate of your competitors. Dig deeper to understand the real factors behind the conversion. Else, all the while, you may be rowing hard, only in the wrong direction.

3. Strategy filtering: Be selective while emulating the strategies of your competitors. Strategies fetching rip-roaring success today may prove to be short-lived. A strategy filtering, followed by appropriate modulation may save you from a meteoric success.

4. Data-based approach: It is safe to base your marketing techniques more on data and less on assumptions. While having a set of hypotheses may help plan on the next steps for your business, tallying them with relevant data is the wisest move.

5. Pilot testing: Bigger companies in the automobile, medical and many other sectors always conduct “Pilot testing” before launching their products in the market. This is nothing but a small-scale testing to detect major or minor issues in the product, in order to minimize post-release catastrophes. Your strategies, particularly the ones borrowed from some of your competitors also need to undergo a series of pilot tests in order to prove their robustness.

A few instances of real-world copycat disasters can drive home the point that a blind imitation isn’t always healthy for your business. Living breathing proofs of blatant plagiarism are the Samwer brothers, who have provenly mimicked some of the biggest brands like Airbnb, Groupon, Pinterest and Zappon. This has made them quite infamous in the market, which is quite taking a toll on their reputation.

While drawing inspiration from your competitors or predecessors is completely acceptable, following all practices set in stone may restrict you within a smaller marketing fishbowl. A thorough competitors analysis is therefore necessary, so that your business does not hit the speed breaker at the time it is expected to grow endlessly.

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