Imagine this: you get an email from a friend with a screenshot and a link to a website that seems suspiciously familiar.
The blood drains from your face and it hits you in the gut: someone copied your stuff.
It happens more often than we think in this online world of ours because it’s so easy to get “inspired” by other people’s work and get away with it in the world wide web.
So what’s a smart business owner to do to stay ahead of the copycats and steer clear of the competition?
How To Stay Ahead Of Competition & Deal with Copycats
The first thing is to recognize that people can only copy the outside of your business, because that’s all they can see. So while they’re copying what’s out there right now, you’re hard at work coming up with newer and more amazing things.
Take this quote from Kipling to heart, if you’ve ever been the victim of a copycat:
“They copied all they could follow but they couldn’t copy my mind, so I left them sweating and stealing a year and a half behind.”
I’ll also add that no one can copy you: your sincerity, your unique gifts, and your one of a kind story.
How To Deal With Copycats Online
Now it’s all well and good to recognize this but what do you actually do if you find out that someone stole your stuff?
I’ve seen a range of reactions from public humiliation of the copycat all the way to totally ignoring it ever happened.
I happen to think that there’s a nice in-between where you can reach out to the offender and ask them to remove the pieces of your brand, copy, or content that they stole.
This happened to me a few years ago when someone stole my website optimization quiz word for word, along with the graphics, colors – everything just short of my code. Instead of calling this person out publicly or taking it laying down, I emailed her with a firm but straightforward cease and desist letter.
I recommend working with an attorney to figure this piece out but usually just communicating that you don’t want your work to be used in this manner is enough to get someone to take it down.
It’s also important to note that sometimes people don’t realize that what they’re doing is wrong, or if they do know it they don’t understand how much it can hurt both of your businesses. That’s why communicating clearly with them with a combination of “sweet as pie and tough as nails” is your best bet for getting a good resolution.
So that’s what I recommend if you’re getting copied in your business.
But you can do even more to keep competitors at bay…
The next level of protection from copycats and competitors is to be a little more strategic about how you build your business.
Think about the resources, assets, and skills that only you have and that if you were to focus on them would leave your competitors in the dust.
I like to think of this as building a moat around your castle that others can’t cross over.
For example, in my business I realized that there were a lot of people who can teach you how to use technical tools to grow your business online but very few of these competing businesses were able to create the tools that grow your business.
Other digital strategists and techies can copy my tutorials but they don’t have the same capabilities that we have to create and market new tools.
So now I want you to think about what things in your business would put you in a totally different zone than your copycats and competitors. Can you think of a moat that you can build around your business?
It could be top of the line customer service. A high touch experience. Customized delivery. Free shipping. Stellar design. Your no-non-sense attitude. Creative names.
Your business is yours to create, and protecting it with a “moat” can be fun and profitable!
What Are Your Tips For How To Stay Ahead of Competition?
Please take a few minutes to leave a comment below with your (hopefully resolved!) copycat stories and any advice you have for anyone who is in this situation right now.
Oh, and if you have any questions about building moats or being strategic about your business, ask away!