Imitation rarely gets us very far. It can be a good substitute when you can’t have the real thing (think Beyond Meat, faux fur, Cheese Wiz). But it’s still an imitation.
If there’s no moral or physical obligations or limitations to stop us from having the real thing, we almost always choose the real thing.
Why wouldn’t we?
Trying to be like everyone else
That can be a problem for those who sell products or services. Many business owners look at the way others are finding success and think, “we need to be like them.”
But you don’t. It’s a race to the middle. And no matter how close you get to being “them,” people always choose the real thing over an imitation.
The good news? Being “the real thing” is a lot easier than being an imitation.
The hardest part about trying to do things “like they do” is they already have an immeasurable head start. Whether it’s another brand’s website, or logo, or content style, they were there first. And not just that, it’s taking something that works for them and hoping it’ll work for you, too.
Their business isn’t identical to yours. Neither are the variables that affect the marketing strategy. Different audience needs, value propositions, culture, internal structure, customer experience, annual business goals—you get the picture.
Be inspired, but do your own thing
That’s not to say others can’t inspire you. At Forward Level, we’re inspired by others every day. And every time we go into a website project, we ask, “what are some websites you like? and why do you like them?” It helps establish a mood or aesthetic. It serves as a jumping-off point to create something unique that fits a brand as their own.
But it’s important to remember that “we” are not “them.” And whether we’re talking about a person or a brand, being unique and being “you” will always be more engaging and rewarding than being anyone else.
Trust your brand strategy
Build a brand that aligns with your audience. Form genuine connections beyond your products and services. Nurture those relationships so that they grow into trust, word of mouth, and repeat customers.
Next time you see a competitor’s social post, website, ad, or whatever it might be, feel free to take a mental note but keep moving forward. If you make a habit of reacting and responding to what your competitors are doing, you let them dictate your marketing, and you end up stuck behind.
You’re here because you’re offering something of value, and you have something to say about it.
Why say it like someone else?