How to Deal with Copycats in Business

Ross Simmonds

How do you deal with people who copy your work?

How do you deal with people who steal your idea?

How do you approach a copycat?

I know, it’s likely you want to take them out back and reenact a scene from fight club.

But let’s be calm….

Alright.

Now that you’ve taken a deep breath.

I’m going to tell you something you might not like.

Ready? Here it is:

Get used to it.

If you’re first to market with a new product or an innovative idea, it’s almost guaranteed that the moment you start to see success, you will suddenly be blinded by copycats.

Look at the hundreds of Uber for X and Airbnb’s for Y that sprouted up over the last few months.

Not talking about a business? Maybe someone stole your content?

No worries.

Look at this:

 

So I responded:

I told everyone I could about this company jacking my content.

But that’s just the beginning…

Rewind back to the beginning of 2015 and Hustle & Grind had a viral sensation.

Our purpose diagram which was inspired by a series of versions (Google: Purpose Diagram).

PurposePoster

Was shared by millions of people all over the world.

And then it happened.

Look at this…

Purpose - Stolen Visuals

People cropped the logo.

Replaced the logo. And one company even stole our logo!

Create great things and people will mimic, steal and copy.

Competition exists in all business markets.

Competition fuels us to think faster, act more intelligently and challenge our ideas on the fly. It makes us smarter, fiercer and more successful.

But with every business in any industry, there are biters. Those people who copy your ideas, style, design, business model and/or content to advance their own goals.

Copycats are unavoidable, but how you deal with them will be the difference between achieving continued success and becoming a one-hit-wonder.

There are a number of tactics for dealing with copycats in business. While some are more subtle than others, each has their own benefits.

Here are a few ways to deal with people copying your ideas:

Prepare Your Acceptance Speech

Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

When the copycats come out, you know you’re doing something right.

People who copy your approach to marketing or branding or who offer imitations of your product or service are paying you a compliment. Understand that they are a fan of what you do and take comfort in the tribute they are paying to you by copying your work.

So relax and say thank you.

Accept the compliment (by calling them out publicly like I did) and get back to work!

Don’t Let Copycats Kill Your Vibe

Raise the bar for yourself; push your limits and set new challenges.

It can be frustrating to invest time, money and sweat into something just to turn around and find your competitors feasting on it. But, you can’t let the coattail-riders slow you down or stall your progress. You must keep hustling.

Whoever makes the first version of something is less important than the person who makes the best version, so stay focused on creating great content, products and serving your customers well. In the end, that’s what will keep you on top.

Stay True to Your Customers

When you’re building your brand you’re intently focused on the needs of your clients and customers.

You do everything for them – to improve their lives, solve their problems and relieve their pain points. Once success hits and the biters start biting, many people turn their attention to the copycats, becoming obsessed and paranoid in the process.

Don’t do that.

Stay close to your audience, fans, clients and customers. Make a commitment to understanding their needs and constantly innovating and forcing the copycats to try and keep up.

Finally, my personal favourite: ignore them.

Ignore the copycats!

They don’t add any value to your life so don’t spend your time and energy worrying about them.

If people are stealing your ideas, content or approach – that’s okay. What really matters is that people can’t copy your unique experiences. They can’t copy your personality or the value you deliver in your work.

Stay focused on your own growth, clients and the new experiences you are having and forget about rest who are following behind and stealing your moves. Think of it this way, the more copycats you have, the bigger your fan base.

It sounds a lot simpler than it feels – I know. But trust me, it’s the way to go.

Don’t be afraid to speak up

While I suggest that you ignore the biters and keep doing you, at the same time, if someone blatantly rips off your content don’t be afraid to call them out on it (see example above).

Speak up and talk to people and learn about why they are copying you. Get their thoughts on it and have a conversation about it. Often times it can be a misunderstanding where simply educating them on proper citation and reference practices can make a huge difference. I’ve seen great collaborative projects come out of this type of positive confrontation.

On the other hand, I’ve had people completely ignore the fact that they stole from you and ultimately be left with no other option but going to someone else.

The takeaway here is to always be kind to your copycats. After all, you attract more flies with honey than vinegar.

Over to you – how do you deal with copycats in the business? Leave a comment with your experience.

Want to learn how to make content worth copying?

Check out my guide to creating compelling & effective content marketing – Stand Out: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Content Marketing.

About Ross Simmonds

Ross Simmonds is a digital marketing strategist who has worked with everything from Fortune 500 companies to startups to drive results using digital marketing and technology.

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[…] copy cat incidents keenly. And in my personal experience, if you’re copied once you will be again (because your work […]

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Sandra Van Berkel-García
Guest
Sandra Van Berkel-García

Thank you for writing this!
A former friend turned into a copycat selling the same at a lower price.
I felt so betrayed as I sat with her over coffee and taught her the basic as she said she was going to do something completely different.
I read your blog and my spirits are lifted and I feel fabulous! Because I am doing something right and I have a really big fan. 😉

Sophia
Guest
Sophia

Glad i read this as well as i am currently feeling very depressed due to a friend who has turned competitor and full time copy cat, i feel like giving up most days.

Jessica
Guest
Jessica

Thanks Ross! You are awesome! It is SOOO frustrating when you get robbed by a copycat!

Juve Nolo
Guest
Juve Nolo

Ross, If I am on the other side of the coin— I have a competitor who went to my IG post and commented ” these look just like mine…”( they actually do look a lot like theirs, but we did it on our own) what do you suggest I do? just ignore them? hit back? I’m confused.

Ross Simmonds
Guest

Hey Juve – In this case, the best solution is a conversation. Talk to them about why your posts look similar and let them know that you’ll be more aware of the similarities between your brand and theirs in the future.

Jackie G
Guest
Jackie G

I love your Venn diagram! Can I share it?

Ross Simmonds
Guest

Definitely! Feel free.

Rach
Guest
Rach

Feeling SO frustrated. Living in a small town, filled an awesome niche in children’s fashion. A new store opened up and is literally copying everything from our window displays, going above our reps and getting merch we have in our store and sending in employees to creep around and pretend they are shopping. It’s already hard enough being in business without another young entrepreneur coming in, just a few doors down, and having no respect for existing businesses. Super perspectives above on dealing with it though, all you can do is accept it as a challenge and work harder. C’est… Read more »

braes
Guest

Ꮋi there it’s me, I am alѕo visiting thіs site rеgularly, thiѕ
wеƄ page is actually nice and the users are genuinely sharing
good thoughts.

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