Monday, January 3, 2011

The Ethical Way to "Steal" Marketing Ideas

“There’s nothing new under the sun.” I believe this old saying in every sense of its meaning.

What there is, however, is creative application, reworking, and improvement of ideas and tangible objects that give us ever-evolving products, services, and lifestyles. Though we could all argue society would be better off without some innovations that have come along, most will agree that, in the big picture, our situations, experiences, and comfort are enhanced because of the drive of untold millions of human minds making incremental changes to existing realities over centuries of time.

What does this have to do with marketing? EVERYTHING!

If we begin at square one with everything we do, we won’t make it very far in business. We must use others’ successes as springboards to move ahead. Here are just two of the many ways to borrow and build on the efforts of other businesses in meeting our marketing goals:

1. Look for successful marketing strategies and tactics in industries outside our own. It’s easy to get stuck in the rut of doing the same things as our competitors in marketing our businesses. What’s working in other industries? Other geographic markets? How can these successes be adapted to work for us?

2. Borrowing existing assets of other companies is another way to enhance our opportunities. When Canon decided to enter the copier arena against Xerox, they didn’t start from square one. They licensed existing technology and aligned themselves with established distribution channels. They leveraged others’ assets to gain a foothold in the marketplace and launch a thriving division of their company.

Gather your team and look at these two areas of opportunity. What can you borrow from others’ success that has application in your situation? Whose intellectual property, technology, client base, or other assets can you leverage to bring greater returns to your business while benefitting the assets’ current owners?

OK, so what I’m talking about here isn’t really “stealing” as the headline said. It’s innovating…the same way mankind has been doing it from the beginning. As we open our eyes and our minds, we’ll find new, productive ways to market our businesses using others’ ideas and innovations as stepping stones to our own greater achievement.

Here’s to your 2011 marketing success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

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