What baby ducklings can teach us about marketing

21 March 2014
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Ducklings learn how to survive by imitating the actions of their mothers.

Learning through the process of imitation is nothing new. I myself learn best when something is demonstrated to me rather than explained. We pick up new skills and abilities by simply watching someone with more experience perform tasks in which we envy.

Marketing your business is really no different.

ducklingWhen I am working with a client, I often hear how a competitor of theirs is kicking-butt in a particular market. They begin to tell me how business X is using social media, videos, podcasts and direct mail to flood the area with creative marketing material. Shortly after they finish venting their frustrations with a dash of jealousy, I reveal to them a little secret. Nothing mind-blowing, just a simple string of words that seems like common sense but is often overlooked.

“Copy their success!”

I’m not saying that you rip them off, but what I do advise, is that you learn to be a duckling. Imitate the actions of others in an effort to better understand how to survive.

If your competitor is able to harness massive engagement on Facebook, you need to start looking into creating a page for your business. Watch the type of content they publish and track the level of customer response. If posting images of their staff seems to generate some solid following, start posting images of your own staff. If they’re using their iPhones to record “How-To” videos to post on their YouTube page, whip out your phone and show the viewer’s how your product is both easy to use and affordable!

The last I checked, there’s no rules against leveling the playing field. If that was the case, Coke would sue Pepsi, Ford would battle with Chevrolet and Sony would be throwing hay-makers at Samsung. Every single brand would be lost in an endless legal battle for rights to market their products in a targeted and effective way.

You don’t need to have a massive marketing budget to remain competitive in your market or industry. In fact, it’s smart to lay in the shadows and make those with deep pockets make the initial mistakes. If you see a full-page ad published by the competitor down the block in your local paper, wait a few weeks and see if they do it again. If they don’t, chances are pretty good that it failed miserably. If they do, get with a local designer and start working on your own vision of a full-page promotion. When geese fly in a V shape, they do so in an effort to reduce the wind resistance on the trailing bodies. Those who follow the goose at point have an easier time conserving energy for the long trip ahead.

Marketing is not a race. It’s a methodical game of chess. Mistakes are made, and the next player capitalizes. That’s just how the game is played.

So the next time you see a competitor creating marketing material that makes your mouth water, don’t be left making excuses. Seek out the people who possess the skills needed to create something similar for yourself.

But first wait to see if their efforts work! Then strike back faster, stronger and with a sense of urgency.

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P.S. Feel FREE to copy anything that I’ve done to promote my own services. Heck! I’ll even tell you if it worked. ~Andy

photo credit: CzechR via photopin cc

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