Are You Just Playing Follow The Leader?

One thing that I routinely tell my coaching clients and remind myself of is that pretty much nothing that I do or create online is really “original”.  For some people, that’s impossibly difficult to accept – they believe they’re a special little unicorn, all unique like a perfect little snowflake.

Unfortunately, it’s the truth.

The best that we can do is to see something that we like or think would be useful and let it inspire us to model it while placing our own spin on it.

I’ve told the story before, but I’ll going to tell it again because it’s apt.

About a year ago when I was thinking about starting a monthly physical newsletter product, Andre Chaperon pointed me in the direction of Ben Settle.  Ben’s Email Players newsletter was something I wasn’t familiar with at the time, but I figured I’d check it out.  It was at that point I started getting his daily emails and really thought that was a handy strategy.

Then when I started Casual Marketer, I was able to take some of the things I’d seen Ben (and others) do and create something entirely of my own.  I learned what other people were doing well and things that I felt I wanted to do differently.  I took those things, tweaked them and did them my way.

I’m pretty happy with the outcome so far and the way it’s going – we’re at day 137 of consecutive daily emails and Casual Marketer continues to grow.

But what got me thinking about this topic today was an email I got from a guy who’s been a blogger talking about blogging for dollars for a long time now.  In fact, I’ve probably been on his list for at least five years, maybe even longer.  He’s been pretty successful, but over the last year or two, I’ve found he’s become a bit of a “me too” sort of character.

Today’s email was all about how he is turning off comments on his blog.

It was just kind of absurd because these folks are constantly talking about building your own assets, engaging your audience, your blog is a conversation, blah blah blah.  Then he turns off the commenting.

If that were the end of it, you’d think that’s weird or stupid, but it isn’t because he’s not even being original.  The good folks at Copyblogger did this same thing last year – they turned off comments on their blog.

Slight tangent, but the irony seems totally lost on them when they talk about listening to the audience and having a conversation, but then turn off the tool to do that because it’s become hard for them to manage.  It ceased being a conversation and become a broadcast platform truth be told.

Anyway, back on topic.

Copying people in your market is never going to help you in the long run.

Playing follow the leader means you’re always a step behind at least.

It’s important to watch what other people in your market are doing, I say it fairly regularly that you need to be a student of the game.  But being a student doesn’t mean you need to be a parrot and repeat what you’ve heard.  The point of learning and having a broad, diverse understanding of your business and the marketplace is so that you can take things you’ve seen, innovate around those and adapt to provide something of event great value.

You’ll note that nowhere did I say blatantly rip off other people in your space, don’t do that, it’s douchey.  Your goal is to think about interesting ways you can model good ideas, add your secret sauce to them and make them your own.

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