To Copy OR Not To Copy
Is imitating proven campaigns a better idea than creating your own?
Strategy: Here is the issue: Is a copycat an instant winner?
Copying a moneymaking campaign that you can easily run using color copies could sound like an instant winning strategy, but let's look in further depth to some additional considerations and only then make a determination.
It is tempting right? You get a postcard in the mail that you think to be very smart and auspicious. You do some more research (a phone call or two) and it is still looking like a pretty successful piece that someone did. So there you go: Talk to your graphic designer and ask him to copy the same piece (exactly as is) but customized to your particular area of interest.
Does copying that campaign mean that you have in hand a "winning-ticket-campaign"? Does this mean that your postcard, or brochure that are copying another one that was considered successful will automatically become a source of revenue for your company?
In our experience, it could potentially go both ways in the short term, but in the long term, we feel that you will realize that it was a wrong move.
"...As good as a Pyrric victory..."
Replicating a strategy, copying a color printing campaign: both in design and distribution is difficult and challenging in itself. There is so much that is unknown to you about what criteria was used, especially for the distribution. Who are those individuals in their list? What type of relationship they have with the company? We could go on and on for hours trying to understand all the requirements and the boundary conditions and analizing the color copy printed piece.
You might not have the right resources to answer callers appropriately, or even in a timely manner. So it is not only about understanding what your competition did, but now you are considering how to reallocate your own resources. It is a difficult process.
Copying a campaign could be as good as a result as the one obtained at a Pyrric victory (read details of what such a victory means). You could find yourself restructuring your organization just because of that successful piece.
Create your own: Creating from scratch is even tougher. Unless you have been very organized in the past and kept good records, this process is very difficult, long and expensive. But wait! The reason we go to school, get trained, attend trade shows, read books, etc is because we cannot reproduce 4,000 years of human learning and experience in a fortnight.
Our opinion is that learning from what has been done by other companies is a must. This is what happens: Copying other peoples work relieves you from part of the initial pain but can leave you very vulnerable because you start to be at the mercy at what others thought, and your boundary conditions might not even relate to theirs.
"Become a creative student"
By becoming a creative student of your environment will only give you more control of your options. You will learn from your weaknesses, strengths and opportunities.
At that point you are in control again. Create your copy, your to-be-copied documents, select your mailing lists according to what really makes sense to your organization.
There is no need to copy what others did. You can achieve success that you can manage.
Questions or comments?