There's a marketing mistake I see a lot of service business owners doing and it’s so frustrating to watch. If you’re doing it, I suggest you stop now (because it could really hurt your business).
I call it “copycat marketing.”
Here’s how it works: you own a service business… well, one day you are driving down the street or you are scrolling through Facebook and you see an ad for another service business. It looks like a great ad. So you take a picture of it and give it to your marketing team with some instructions:
“Create an ad that looks like this,” you say. “Put our logo on it, and maybe change the color a bit.”
Sounds like a smart strategy right?
While it’s possible that there might be some value in using approved “swipe files” from a company that has grown really big (that’s what our clients come to us for)… in general, you shouldn’t just grab marketing that is being used by another business and adjusts it slightly for your own business.
You might see a marketing strategy in place with another company and you think that if you just change the colour and the shape a little bit you’ll get the same results. But you won’t. It’s not true. In the service company that my business partner and I built up over time, our marketing took years to develop and perfect. Whenever people tried to rip off my marketing, they fell flat on their face.
There are a few reasons:
- My customer base was different than theirs, so the marketing was designed to speak to my customer base, not to theirs, so when they ripped off my marketing they couldn’t figure out why their own customers weren’t responding to it.
- My business was different, which meant that my numbers were different, which meant that my pricing was different. A company that tried to compete on my pricing might have become quickly unprofitable if they didn’t have other key things in place first. There are pieces that come before and after the marketing; my competitors only saw one small slice of a much larger strategic effort.
- My experts were different. They’d send in a tech in response to the copycat marketing and the tech would do the job and go home. But my experts were highly trained to turn that marketing contact into a larger ticket so we sold more.
The problem with copycat marketing is that every business is actually different, and every marketing strategy is different too. Just because somebody else sees your marketing and thinks it is great, it doesn’t mean it will work for them. You need to build your business and know what needs to be different than other businesses. That's why there are businesses out there like Home Depot and Lowe's, or The Dollar Store and Five Below. Similar concepts, very different businesses, and marketing strategies employed.
So, if you’ve ever copied a competitor’s marketing and then wondered by your business wasn’t growing like your competitors, that’s probably the reason.
When you create a business, it must have its own business model, brand, and style. Sure, it’s true that “success leaves clues” so it’s okay to see other people’s marketing and pick it apart to determine WHAT made it successful… but instead of copying the marketing itself, you need to extract the principles and reverse engineer their marketing to figure out how to create yours. It’s a very different approach. Don't be a copycat. You're just hurting yourself.
When service business owners come to us to become our clients (we call our clients “Warriors”), they do so because they know they’re getting access to vast libraries of marketing, including swipe files. But the difference is: we help our clients understand what works and what doesn’t… AND WHY… and we give our clients powerful marketing swipe files with the guidance to help them implement those swipe files in their own business in a way that makes sense.
So, if you’re copycatting your competitor’s marketing, you may be hurting your business. It’s time to dig into your marketing to figure out how to create your own and make it better.