The manager of the legendary billiard player Willie Hoppe was once asked by journalists how it was that Willie could win all of the billiard tournaments. His answer: „Willie only ever plays billiards, everyone else only ever plays Willie.“
Far too many people are only concerned with studying their competitors and forget to give their products a clear and unmistakable profile. According to the motto: „If X Ltd. does it, it’ll be right – then we’ll do it that way too“ … followed by the request: „Take a look at what the X Ltd is doing and please bring me the same thing, but of course in such a way that it’s not recognizable as plagiarism at first glance.“ The counterpart then opens a drawer within easy reach, which is loaded to the brim with advertisements from the competitor. The desired pages are quickly found, copied for the agency as a reference sample and handed over.
So far, so good. But why does this scene take place thousands of times a day? And – without wanting to offend you – why is it happening to you as well? Well, there is a very simple explanation: your neighbor’s car is bigger than yours, his house is nicer, his grass is greener and his son is smarter. It is in our nature to not to question things that are already there, but to be seduced by the herd instinct ‑instead of making the effort to go our own way. Through the „envy syndrome“ one is seduced into perceiving things that one sees (usually in others) as particularly desirable. The will to want to have such things at all costs is deeply anchored in the subject of communication. From a young age, we begin to copy our friends or their status symbols. We are all influenced in our actions by role models and instinctively copy their actions.
We don’t know what your competitors‘ motivation was – and what moved them to design their advertising the way they did. But assume that the X Ltd. also have such a drawer … and that your advertising is in it. And after studying the contents several times, we wouldn’t be surprised if it’s also just a variation of yours … Or that of another competitor, who probably also borrowed it.
So finally play billiards – your game. Give your brand, your products, what they need most: their own distinctive profile. Yes, it’s more work. Yes, it takes more courage. Yes, it may be a bit riskier. Yes, you will take on more responsibility. But it will be worth the effort because it will work! If only because when you do it, you’ll be better and smarter than your competitors. Your company deserves it … and so do your products.
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