The copycat’s conundrum

I used to do an exercise with clients where I’d show them sections clipped from their website and similar sections clipped from their competitors’ websites. The challenge was to identify which sections were theirs.

Spoiler alert – I almost never got the right answer. Even when I did, people usually admitted it was just a lucky guess.

Too many businesses forget that when they look exactly the same as every other potential supplier, that only leaves price as the basis for purchasing decisions. Over time, you’ll end up as one of hundreds of commodity suppliers, all competing on price.

Many businesses seem to prefer the anonymity of conformity to standing out. It feels “safer” perhaps, but being like everyone else is actually the riskiest thing a business can do.

Here’s one example why – according to a recent survey virtually 100% of companies say they provide excellent customer service, but only 80% of managers think their company actually provides superior customer service.

More worryingly, only 8% of their customers agree with those managers’ opinions.

Can you imagine how easy it would be to stand out from your competitors by providing excellent customer service when 92% of your potential customers don’t think anyone in your industry provides that?

More to the point…why would you copy ways of working that 92% of your potential customers already don’t like?

This isn’t just about customer service, though.

Try the same exercise I used to take clients through. Get someone to copy-and-paste your website and the websites of five or six competitors into a plain Word document, removing any images and company names and jumble them up.

Can you tell them apart? Can you tell which is yours?

Almost certainly not. And guess what…neither can your customers.

You’ll never beat your competitors by copying them. The opportunities for smart business people to do something different…provided they deliver on their promises…are huge.

What’s stopping you?

Published by Alastair Thomson

Founder of Better Business Publishing Ltd. An experienced Chairman, CEO, CFO and Non-Executive Director for large multinationals across sectors such as advertising, manufacturing, financial services, utilities, printing, direct mail fulfilment, contact centres, professional membership bodies, education and training.

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