We sometimes wonder if those cave drawings of antelope and other prey that the first cavemen drew weren’t somehow borrowed or inspired from some other artist who lived in some other cave a couple doors away. That’s because throughout history, and especially in any form of art and advertising, creative types have been taking – both overtly and subtly – from their peers.
So does that mean you should steal from the competition?
At Ciplex, our answer would be “no.” The best way to sink the other players in your industry isn’t to copy them, it’s to do something they haven’t thought of yet. That being said, however, there’s nothing wrong with keeping a close eye on them, and even getting an idea now and again.
Here are three tips for deciding when to check up on, or even borrow from, the competitors’ online marketing playbook:
Keep an open eye. No matter what, you should make a point of looking at the other websites in your industry every once in a while. Even if it’s just for a couple of minutes a week, be sure to visit and see what they’re up to. It’s a small activity, but one that can stop you from being blindsided by a major move.
Never actually copy someone else’s design or content. Besides bad karma and numerous copyright laws, stealing from someone else is a bad idea because it just doesn’t work. In almost any marketplace, it’s going to be very easy for customers to figure out who came first, and so copying someone else is going to make you look bad – if you’re even able to stay in business after breaking the law.
Spot good ideas… no matter where they are. If you do see something that looks interesting, however, talk to your web designer online marketing team about adding features or functionality. There’s nothing to say you can’t take a profitable idea you found on someone else’s website and use it on yours.
In fact, while you’re at it, look for ideas on any website you happen to visit. Some of the best marketing innovations have occurred when an owner or manager has taken an idea from a different industry and made it work in their own. Keep your eyes peeled, and you might come up with a similar breakthrough.