Are You Borrowing Messaging From The Competition?

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As a copywriter, I spend every day working on marketing projects for various companies. It seems like a week doesn’t go by that I don’t run into at least one client who sends me marketing materials from his competition (their website, brochures, ads, etc.) and tells me to “rewrite something like that for me.”

They think that by borrowing the competition’s messaging and mimicking what they’re doing, they too will experience the same level of success. And they’re wrong.

Being successful isn’t about blending in. It’s not about sounding like your competition. In fact, it’s just the opposite. You want to zig when your competition zags. You want to be the needle in the haystack, not the haystack. In other words, you want to be different, because different is how you stand out in a crowded marketplace.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t study what your competitors are doing. You should. After all, as Sun Tzu said in The Art of War:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.  If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

But the reason you should study what they’re doing is so you can determine a strategy for differentiating your company from theirs, allowing you to better appeal to your target audience and give people an actual reason to buy from you, not one of your competitors.

So, the next time you’re creating marketing materials and messaging for your business, resist the urge to blend in. Don’t play it safe, and don’t be a follower. If you want to experience true success, you have to be a leader. You have to be different. You have to take a freakin’ chance!

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