I was having an interesting discussion yesterday with a colleague around being copied and the reality is that being copied is of course the highest form of flattery. If you’re being copied it means you’re doing something right – it’s a really strong signal.
If you’re copying other people it means you’re not out positioning them, if you’re copying other people it almost certainly means that your marketing is reactive rather than proactive.
A couple years ago I was copied, I’d had a really cool idea to do with marketing, it was a brilliant idea for a campaign – rare obviously (that was a joke just for everybody that’s reading this in text form!)
At first obviously my ego was wounded,
how dare someone copy me.
But actually over a couple of days I started to realize that it was creating more interest for me, because people were looking at a specific topic and I was one of the first to post on it, if not the first.
I had a specific idea and I posted about it, I can’t remember what it was today, but I remember feeling viscerally wounded at the time that somebody had copied me.
On reflection what I discovered was that people were copying what I’d done because it was the right thing to do. They didn’t have enough of a strategy at their own end to afford them the luxury of a moment of creative thought to come up with a campaign of their own.
At first I felt aggrieved and I was a bit angry, I was going to send an email to the person and say ‘you know I did that, you could have at least hat tipped me or credited me.’
But actually what I realised was that they were in their own private hell in their business, their marketing wasn’t structured enough, it was very reactive and not proactive, and the reality was that I’d done them a favour.
Later on in a conversation with that person it turned out I actually had a lot to show them, and they were open and they were coachable and I think we both grew through the process.
So if you find yourself being copied in any format it tells you two things;
First of all it tells you that you’re doing something right. It shows that you’re out positioning your competition and that you are hitting the nail on the head, that you’ve got the right tone, the right idea, the right trigger point, everything is lining up perfectly.
The second point, if you feel aggrieved and you speak to the people doing it, one of two things will happen. They will either totally shut down and get defensive and go into denial, they will either not embrace what you’re doing and only give you negative back. Or on the other hand they might be coachable, you might have found an opportunity to coach someone through a particular challenge and it may seem really obvious to you, but it may not be obvious to them.
There may even be a customer there, if you think about it.
Ultimately everything in life is an opportunity, so even when you’re out positioning people, if they’re copying you, the reality is what they’re telling you is they’re not able to do it on their own.
What you make of that is up to you.
From an egotistical level being copied is fantastic. There’s a fantastically cliched quote;
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” – Oscar Wilde
This isn’t a new idea, being copied is a great sign, it tells people you’re doing something right. Sometimes those people will thank you in advance as well, say things like ‘That’s really brilliant, would you mind if I leveraged that as well?’
Again it’s about building partnership, it’s about building opportunities to build client base to serve people.
That’s the key takeaway today, from this simple chat I had with someone yesterday;
If you’re truly out positioning people, if you’re clever and innovative and you are pushing a boundary somewhere, then chances are you are gonna get copied and enjoy that. It’s a really really great thing to be copied so when it happens look for the opportunity.
Once you get past the ego love of feeling fantastic because someone’s copied you, what opportunity is in front of you that’s caused this need to copy you?