Resist the Urge to Copycat


Photography Business Institute
Photography Business Institute


In many industries, it’s commonplace to copy the leader in your market. The book I’m currently reading, Killing Giants: 10 Strategies to Topple the Goliath in Your Industry, has me thinking a lot about business owners who copy what the market leader is doing, and why it’s not the best strategy.

What kind of copycat behavior am I referring to?

Copying the market leader’s poses and style.

Copying their product mix.

Copying their design.

Copying their marketing.

Copying their prices, or worse decide to be just a little cheaper and attract the price sensitive buyer.

Yet what makes the market leader successful may not be the poses, products, designs and prices you’ve replicated. Sure it’s a part of their success, but they have different problems, different strengths and probably a different focus and different goals than you do. After all, they are the market leader. And you’re not….yet.

What made them successful when they started out may not have anything to do with what makes them successful today. So why copy the market leader? It’s not a sustainable position that will lead to long-term success.

There is enough business to go around without trying to be a replica or knock off of the market leader. Be unique. Come up with a product that only you can offer because you make it yourself or source it from an obscure vendor that nobody knows about.

The builder of my home is a perfect example. He mastered the skill of building 12 foot iron and glass doors. He recognized an opportunity in his market (Texas), where home owners would love the wow factor of a huge door. He designed it, taught his team to build it and controls his costs. No other builder can offer these because there isn’t a supplier to call. To learn to build these doors would take months if not longer. If you want a home with these doors in my community, you have to use my builder.

Think of a product that you can offer your market that no one else can or is offering. Again, living in Texas, there is a lot of Texas pride, especially outside the major cities. I also live in a community with a major university that many in the community identify with. Unique products that tie into the local and state pride would be big sellers in any industry in my community. Yet I don’t see enough small business owners taking advantage of this beyond the obvious t-shirts, knick nacks, etc.

Many readers of our blog are artists. You like to create. So go do what you do best. Create something unique that isn’t easily copied. Something you haven’t copied from the market leader. Something that your market wants, even if they don’t realize it. Then watch your business soar…and maybe even tackle that giant.

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