By Neil Patel
The more advancements in digital marketing we make and the more information on how to spy on competitors we share, the more those things are being adopted in various industries around the world.
That means you’re more likely to be the target of a spying competitor.
It’s all fun and games until they start using the same tactics to replicate the work you’ve been doing.
Sometimes, competitors will piggyback on your hard work to steal market share and customers.
When you’ve got a direct competitor shadowing your content marketing strategy, social engagement, and audience outreach, it’s enough to inspire vengeance and make you lose focus!
I speak from experience. This has happened to me several times.
It makes you question whether it’s something that should be promoted. Where’s the line between spying to replicate a competitor and just monitoring for awareness?
It’s enough to make you question the ethics of competitive intelligence.
What drives the competition to shadow you?
I’m reluctant to put any kind of blame on influencers and marketers, but we should share some of it.
As an industry, we’re constantly creating content, teaching business owners:
- how to analyze the social activities of competitors
- how to steal their social followers
- when it’s okay to swipe content from competitors and copy them
- how to steal backlinks from competitors
- how to swipe rankings and spy on the competition
Of course, none of that would be an issue if there weren’t people who wanted those shortcuts and resources in the first place.
The main issue is the individual who is your competitor. They are in business for the same reasons you are—to make money. They want to gain market share; they want the audience’s attention; and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to get it.
The problem is that many of them don’t have the resources to do what you’re doing.
When you create 10x content or find something that’s worth curating to provide value to your audience, your competitor grabs that same resource and shares it.
Then, they take your blog topics and spin them, maybe adding just a little more value to try to make them better than yours.
In my situation, many competitors have simply copied/pasted my articles onto their own blogs!
Why do people do this? It’s probably because they lack in one or more areas:
That’s likely one of the reasons why over 60% of marketers have trouble creating engaging content.
Some of them are playing “follow the leader” rather than generating anything unique for their audiences.
They may not have the skill to understand who their audience really is or the creativity to come up with something original. Perhaps they feel that they don’t have the time to source their own materials, so they ride your coattails.
Here’s how you can shake them off and stop it from happening.
1. Produce the best content
Creating original content is not an easy task, especially packing in a lot of value. A long-form post can take hours to research and write. Some articles may even take days to produce. That’s a significant investment.
To prevent a competitor from spinning your hard work into a “new” piece by sprinkling in some extra value, make your content as comprehensive as possible.
This is the approach that helped Peep Laja build such a tremendous following when he first launched ConversionXL.
Rather than adding to the noise in the industry with shorter posts, he created comprehensive articles of great length around a specific industry gap, loaded with value for the reader.
Every data point, fact, and statement was backed by authoritative research and case studies. Peep’s posts were, and still are, exhaustive in nature.
If you take the same approach, you’ll make it virtually impossible for a competitor to spin your content into something with more value.
And because of the exhaustive nature of the content, they would need to commit considerable time to come up with a different angle—which is almost the same as researching and producing original content.
That’s something you know they’re not willing to do.
Competition aside, the biggest benefit is the value you’re providing to your audience. When you step up the quality of your content, your followers notice.
You will see not only stronger relationships develop with your brand but also a lot more shares and engagement around your content.
2. Don’t just curate. Cooperate
Finding great content to curate is like gold. It’s content you didn’t have to spend time producing, but your audience will still enjoy it and appreciate the information.
That’s why it’s all the more frustrating when your competitor keeps sharing the same things you post.
If you’ve got an influencer from whom you regularly curate content, make a connection with them.
Rather than simply sharing the content they produce, find some way to cooperate with them.
This could include:
- Guest posts on their site
- Co-authoring great content
- Working together on infographics or other visual content
If you co-produce something with them or guest-post, you can share that like curated content when it goes live. It’s branded to the influencer, so your audience will pay closer attention.
It looks like curated content but also carries your brand with it.
Do this on a regular basis with influencers and other businesses that share audience interests with you, and you’ll make it next to impossible for a competitor to swipe the content you’re “curating.”
That’s unless they want to share something that talks about your brand. If they’re not paying attention, that just might happen.
3. Diversify your content
If it becomes a recurring problem, remember that it’s relatively easy to take written content and spin it into something else.
The web is full of derivative content, with business owners and marketers echoing each other nonstop.
Diversification in your content can make it a lot harder for this to happen. Creating derivative content from a blog is easy, but it’s not as easy when things have a little more production value.
Put your greatest effort into creating other types of content that are far more difficult to swipe. That would include:
- Branded explainer videos, how-tos, and tutorials to educate and entertain your fans
- Shorter videos and branded images on Instagram
- Detail-packed infographics
- Comprehensive slide decks
- Interactive content that boosts engagement
Any kind of content that requires more resources and skill to convert into a derivative will stop competitors in their tracks.
Likewise, by diversifying your content, you’ll be distributing it through different channels, which improves your overall reach and visibility with new audience segments.
If you’ve had enough with competitors gaining from your hard work, sweat just a little harder and create something that makes it impossible for them to capitalize on unless they work just as hard.
From that point forward, no measure of spying or chasing will earn them the market share you’ll be conquering as a result of your efforts.
Have you had a competitor attempt to follow your content strategy? How did you handle it?