Why Copy Cats Finish Last

We hear it from clients and prospective clients more often than we’d like to admit, “Our competitor(s) market X, so we ought to as well”. And so, we find ourselves incessantly asking the same question – why?

As Herman Melville said, “It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation”. That being said, we want to challenge you; the next time you have a “me too” thought, consider the below:

  1. Is there a workaround solution to reach your audience?

Copying your competitor implies that their content and format will work for your company as well. One of our favorite elements of digital marketing is the unlimited ways in which we can deliver messages. While blogging works for some, email works better for others. Instead of Facebook posts, perhaps your audience is more receptive to podcasts or video.

We challenge you to think about your audience and prepare content that they want in the format that suits them best – not what your competitor thinks they want.

  1. You might see their content, but you can’t pinpoint what’s truly “working” for them.

Let’s say you’ve been keeping a close eye on your competitor’s marketing strategy. You see they’ve increased their leads, comments, subscribers, members etc. and it appears (from the outside) that their content works. What you don’t know is what types of content are producing a ROI. What did they do to promote that content? Are they using ad spend? Are there hidden collaborations involved?

If you do copy any marketing strategy aspects from your competitors, make sure you’re able to see the entire picture first.


  1. Realize your competitors are playing the same guessing game that you are.


Believe it or not, your competition is often as clueless as you are – sometimes even more so! It’s very possible that your competitors are copying other companies, which means if you’re replicating their work, you’re actually imitating imitation.

The moral of this one is, nobody’s right all the time, but with enough trial and error, it’s not uncommon to be right at least some of the time. We’d venture to guess that you wouldn’t want to gamble your resources on untried opinions time and time again just to find out that 9 times out of 10, what you’re imitating and executing isn’t working.

Feeling adventurous? Gamble on your own ideas – work with what you have in-house and see what your audience is most receptive to. You’ll need patience, but if you’re consistent with trial and error and dedicated to making your message work for you, you’ll be on track to outperform your competitors any day.