Every day in schools throughout the U.S., kids are being taught that copying the work of others is the “wrong” thing to do. It is a “punishable” offense.
U.S. law also protects against the unauthorized copying of trade secrets, copyrighted works, audio and video productions, and a host of other types of products. These, too, are “punishable” offenses.
However, if you want to become a successful business with a competitive edge that leads your competition, there are times when it makes sense to “copy” the lead of others who have found the secret formula for success. Here are 3 ways to follow others to success:
1. Keep a “swipe” file of advertisements, sales letters, brochures, and other marketing materials to use as guidelines when producing your own. Focus on companies with similar target markets that are not competitors of yours,
Most successful copywriters follow the lead of others in just this way. The idea is not to “steal” the work of others word for word, but to use it as a guide to generate your own materials.
In the era of social media, it is also good to note what is creating the “buzz” in conversations. Look for trends in television shows, YouTube videos, and especially in viral marketing that gets consumer response. Remember though that these successful campaigns may fade quickly, and it may be hard to duplicate a viral success that’s “been there, done that.”
2. Look for a proven business formula to follow.
Why reinvent the wheel when there is a proven model to follow? Many successful businesses have started by following the lead of another business and improved on the formula. Look for ways to improve the business model, such as better customer service, more relevant marketing, or greater customer value.
If you are going to become a successful business with a competitive edge that leads your competition, it makes sense to study the best practices of successful companies, and adapt them to your company as it grows. Using proven models reduces risk and allows a company to accelerate its growth.
3. Copy the standards of your industry while creating your own unique brand.
Industries have their own styles, like their own language patterns and terminology. Use these to be seen as an “insider” who knows what’s going on.
But develop your own unique and distinctive brand characteristics to be remembered. You do not want to blend in the background because you fail to differentiate yourself from the pack. This is a good time to copy from other industries. Look for branding strategies and tactics that you think would be a good fit for your industry. Since you are not competing with those companies you are copying because you are in a different industry, you may be able to get valuable advice from them as well.