Apart from the obvious plagiarism side of things, there’s another excellent reason why you shouldn’t copy the same approach as your competitors.
Every year I am asked, at least twice, by potential clients to “just write it as they’ve done it. We offer the same so you can use their content but just change a few words around.”
And every year I tell them no, and every year I lose the business.
I’m not saying that looking at what your competitors are up to is a bad thing. It’s not, after all, that is part of my research.
What is a bad thing is being lazy (and thinking that I’m lazy) and opting to regurgitate someone else’s copy to market your own business.
There’s no need for it – you’re better than that.
Be you, not an imitation of someone else
The whole point of your website (and all your other marketing materials) is to stand out as a company that’s run by experts in their field, that cares enough about its customers to solve their problems and make their lives easier, and that delivers an exceptional service.
I don’t care if one of your competitors has a website filled with copy you’d give your right arm to have written, copying their approach and style will do you a disservice.
Your message will be lost, and you’ll just be seen as a company incapable of thinking for themselves.
You have your own personality, own approach to customers and your own way of doing things – so make that evident in your content.
Look at it from your customers’ point of view. They’ve spent hours researching for companies that can provide the solution they’re looking for. They’ve created a shortlist of possible suppliers and are ready to start whittling them down.
If your site is a poor copy of someone else’s, it won’t be saying anything new, and it won’t show off your personality. As a result, you won’t stand out and will just disappear from view.
Be loud, be proud, and be different
When briefing your copywriter about the style you’re looking for, it’s very easy to say you want the same approach as everyone else because that’s what your customers expect.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a law firm, accountant, design company, retailer, or financial services provider, being different from the norm is a good thing.
Use different language. Be conversational. Be bold. And above all be an individual.
Be a peacock, not a chameleon.
If you have no idea how to do that, ask your writer. They’ll have plenty of ideas about how you can be different. It’s a great idea, as part of the project, to get them to create a couple of different approaches so you can see the difference between the norm and something a bit alternative.
You might find it a bit uncomfortable at first, but the reaction you’ll get from your readers will soon put your mind at rest.
Granted, it won’t be loved by anyone (but it’s impossible to please everyone all of the time), but it will make you stand out as a company that does things differently. And with the right mix of case studies, testimonials and articles, you’ll be seen as a company that knows what it’s doing and that put the needs of its customers first.
It doesn’t get much better than that.
Don’t be the all flower than blends into the background. Have the courage to stand proudly within your marketplace. In the world of marketing being different is a good thing, so forget all those childhood hang-ups and embrace your individuality.
Sally Ormond is an international copywriter. Working across all industries, she creates on-brand content for on and offline marketing as well as internal communications.