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Coming up with new content week after week is challenging. And, if you’re following competitors on social media, you might see their stuff and think, “damn, why didn’t I have that idea!?” It’s really, really tempting to take what they’ve created and emulate it, or riff on it. But be warned, copying content from your competitors is never going to be a good business decision.

Not only is copying content illegal, and immoral, it’s just not a good way to attract the attention of your target market or stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Here’s why….

Your position in the market

You might have heard marketers talking about ‘positioning’ before. It’s one of those jargony phrases we like to band around to sound clever. Simply put, it means how you compare to your competitors. For a full and proper explanation of positioning, try this Wikipedia page. It’s the clearest explanation I could find.

In an ideal market, each competitor will occupy one area of the market, serving a particular type of client. The clients might form clear groupings (called market segments). They could be grouped by:

  • geographical location
  • a demographic feature, such as age in B2C (consumer) markets or industry in B2B (business to business) markets
  • the specific challenge that they’re looking for help with
  • buying preferences
  • etc.

So, in this ideal market, nobody is in direct competition with each other, and there’s a big enough share of the pie for everybody. Each competitor will share information about its products and services, how it does business, and its values, that will specifically attract its target audience.

In this ideal world it would all be very neat and tidy. But, it’s rarely like this in reality.

Here’s an example

The easiest way to understand this is with a real-life example, how about: supermarkets? Each of the major supermarkets has adopted a position in the market. They communicate their position through the design, features and language used in their brand, advertising and website. In some cases there’s more than one in the same spot (looking at you Waitrose and Marks & Spencer) and they’re competing for similar customer groups. Shoppers can easily compare food retailers based on their values. Let’s use quality and price as an example. Very roughly speaking:

Marks & Spencer / Waitrose = high quality + high price.

Sainsburys = average quality + average price.

Tesco / Morrisons = average quality + low price.

Aldi = high quality + low price.

Lidl = average quality + low price.

Dramatic changes happen when one of these firms adopts a new strategy and tries to steal a march on the others. For example, about ten years ago, when Aldi decided to increase the quality of its food and steal business from Waitrose and Marks & Spencer.

You might be thinking: “This is all very interesting Pip, but where are we going?”

How it applies to your business

I used this example to help you get an idea of how positioning works. In reality, it’s much more complex. For example, we don’t always have awareness of every competitor that’s out there, there may be literally hundreds of competitors, and hundreds of values on which to position them.

In our market, for example, we compare ourselves against competitors by how focused we are on supporting our clients with strategy vs. implementation, and the quality of our work. But, there are lots of other ways in which we could compare ourselves, such as price, depth of experience, the amount of time it takes us to deliver, how friendly we are, geographical reach, etc, etc.

If you’re struggling with creating content for your business, whether that’s the copy for your website, or on your social media pages, one of the worst things you can do is to look at your competitors and paraphrase what they’re saying.

When a business has chosen its position in the market, its content should be focused on sharing that position. When you slide down the slippery slope of copying content from a competitor, as easy as it may seem to borrow ideas, you are only making yourself a ‘me too’ brand. In other words, you’re communicating: “we are the same as them”. When the competitor you’ve aped is long established and successful, you’ll be competing head to head, and likely losing out to them.

A better approach

A better approach is to choose your own brand values and work out what you stand for. Then compare your business with your competitors and ensure you’re positioned differently (hint: you might need to adapt your offerings or your target audience to do this). Then, use your own unique content to share your values with your specific audience.

This is something we can help you with. Whether it’s a case of analysing your nearest competitors to find an under-occupied space in the market, or developing a plan for your content so that it’s unique and distinct, find out how we could help here.

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