Since 1999, McLellan Marketing Group has produced a weekly e-newsletter. (Content different from the blog, btw). People can sign up automatically from our website. Which means that our competitors can sign up and "spy" on what we send out to our prospects. I sent out the newsletter last night and got a couple "out of the office" auto e-mails from some of the other agency owners in the market. ;-}
We also host a free monthly branding breakfast — to educate business owners and marketing pros about branding. We have competitors show up to those too. And mingle among our prospects and clients. (I figure if we really want to teach the world about branding, we should probably teach the other agencies how to do it too!)
It’s easy to get paranoid. To worry that the fox is in the hen house, so to speak. And maybe you will chalk it up to arrogance on my part — but we never worry about it.
In fact, we’ve even collaborated with one agency in town, REL. They are good thinkers, understand branding and are very creative. Why wouldn’t I want to hang around with people like that?
Why don’t we worry about those foxes near our hen house? I have complete faith that our brand is genuine and that no one can duplicate that. If we take good care of our clients and we truly walk our talk — they’re not going anywhere. People can try to duplicate, replicate and imitate. But they can’t be us. (And the smart ones wouldn’t bother trying.)
On the flip side, if you want to spy on your competition, there’s plenty of tools out there. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with knowing what the other guys are up to. That’s just good business. But be careful that you don’t compromise your brand by shape shifting every time one of your competitors does something smart.
Be you. And don’t worry. The others may try to be you, but they can’t really pull it off. Why not just invite them in?