So, you want to grow your business and your influence. Great, but now what? Many business owners head over to the largest source of information in human history, Google, and begin to search. Just a quick search around “how to grow my business” will deliver millions of results in seconds. But how do you know what will work for you? Who are the experts you can trust? What tactics are overrated? I am sure these are all thoughts you’ve had at one point or another.
Information is no longer a problem. We have access to nearly every piece of content ever written. Sadly, with all this exposure to content and information, many still don’t take advantage of it. Another way to say it is, “we are drowning in information, and striving for wisdom.” There is a huge difference between knowing something and being wise.
Knowledge is only powerful if you use it. Wisdom is knowing when and how to use your knowledge.
So why am I talking about wisdom on a blog that focuses on marketing and growth hacking? Great question. It’s easy to get caught up in trends and what worked for others and assume that it will work for us. I see this all the time. One company does something unique and works great, so everyone else tries to copy it. As you can probably guess, those that chased the trend didn’t see the results for which they were hoping.
There are a number of reasons these copycat tactics fail. But here are the top 3 reasons copycat marketing doesn’t work.
When a company or agency comes up with a creative growth hack for a company, there is usually a lot of planning and testing behind it. While there are moments when a great idea just comes to mind, most of the time, the team has put in a ton of time and effort into creating a strategy that is focused, targeted and unique. When you copy someone else, that is not the case. You haphazardly take what someone else has done and duplicate it. Without a clear strategy, you're shooting in the dark.
When you invest in creating something, you build a connection to it. Just think about that statement. What was the last major project you focused on for a considerable amount of time and energy? How did you feel when you finished? Where you proud of your work?
Now think of a solution someone gave you. Do you have the same feeling towards that as you do the one you created? When we take time to invest in something, we have ownership which drives us towards success. When you don’t have ownership, you typically don’t have the drive to push through when things get tough.
All great marketing does one thing well; it creates an intimate, deep connection with its audiences. It’s our feelings that cause us to move and take action. When you copy someone else’s work without taking time to see what your audience needs, you are setting yourself up for failure. You need to discover what moves your audience and create a campaign that will connect with them.
Now, I am not saying we can’t use what worked for others. In fact, using what worked for others in our strategy can be extremely powerful. But before you just copy and paste, you need to do your homework. Here are some guidelines to use before “stealing like an artist” and borrowing tactics from other successful campaigns.
This is the most important and yet most overlooked element when creating a campaign. Without defining what you are after, how will you know you have reached your goal? When I say know your end goal, I mean get really specific. What do you want to achieve? What end result will succeeding mean to your business? What will happen if you don’t meet your goal?
Take time on this part. Get crystal clear about what you want before moving forward. The answer to this question will help direct everything else. Attaching the meaning of the outcomes will give you a reason to press through when things get hard. As we all know, no plan, no matter how perfect, ever goes exactly as we envision it will.
Not everyone will want your product. The sooner you can come to terms with that the better. What you need to do is find out who needs what you are offering. Find the people who do not just want what you offer, but have the means to purchase it. There have been a number of companies that built passionate fans bases only to fail because their audience didn’t have the means to buy what they were selling.
Just knowing who your audience is, is not enough. You need to understand how they communicate and prefer to receive communication. Too many companies only focus on trends and spread themselves so thin with that nothing works. They try Facebook for a week, Twitter for a few days, SEO for a month and don’t get results, so they quit. Take the time upfront to know where your audience hangs out and what methods of communication they prefer. Then, talk to them. Build a relationship and solve their problems.
You can have the best strategy in the world, but if you fail to execute, you will get poor results. Execution is what separates those that win from those that fail. While not everything will go perfectly, you need to make sure that you deliver the core of your message with precision. This means the right tone, words, and visuals provided at the right time. If you nail your execution, you will see results.
So what if your first try doesn’t go as planned? Should you just throw in the towel and assume you're not good at this marketing stuff? No way!!! How does that saying go? If at first, you don’t succeed, pick yourself up and try again. When building a strategy, don’t expect to get it perfect the first time and don’t wait until it’s “perfect.” Execute, measure, adapt and execute. That is how you find out what works.
So what’s next? Great question! To grow your business, you need to market. While it’s noisier than ever before, smart companies are producing outstanding results by crafting customized strategies that meet their needs and the needs of their audience. You don’t have to be an expert to get started, but you do need to invest in getting it right. I recommend learning from what others are doing and “steal like an artist.” But don’t copy and paste. Take what is good and put a fresh spin on it. Remember you want to have ownership and create a meaningful connection.
Then take things to another level with further optimization and customization. First, get clear about what you want to achieve. Be specific and make sure you can measure your results. You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Get to know your audience and how they prefer to communicate. Then execute your plan with precision. Likely you’ll hit a few snags, but that’s ok. Look at the results and adapt and execute again. The key is to keep pushing. It took me a year of blogging three times a week to start seeing results. If I had quit when I saw only minimal results, I would never have reaped the rewards. Find out what is working and do more of that! Success comes to those who persist.
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