A client sent me this fascinating article from Inc.com.
It’s about a German billionaire who’s built an empire by ripping off Amazon.com, eBay, Zappos, Airbnb and other successful web businesses.
His company basically replicates the exact web design (layout, colors, copy, forms, everything) that took these companies years (and millions of dollars) to develop. He then launches these sites in foreign countries (for example, they copied the Amazon site design and opened Lazada, the Amazon of the Jakarta and Mizado, the Amazon of Istanbul.)
There were two main things that I kept thinking about while reading this article:
1. It’s one thing to copy a site design, it’s a whole nother ballgame to develop the business infrastructure necessary to pull something like this off. There’s a lot of hard work and strategy that has to go into figuring out which countries to open these sites in, database design, fulfillment, infrastructure, etc.
So, say what you will about the ethics involved with making a nearly identical copy of someone else’s copyrighted website…it still takes a lot of business savvy to pull something like this off on the scale of Amazon, eBay or Zappos.
2. The other thing I kept thinking about was an important lesson for small businesses.
The truth is, in this day and age, it’s pretty easy for a competitor to copy what you’re doing on your website (in fact, it recently happened to a client of mine).
What makes it even easier is that most websites do nothing that makes them stand out. Particularly when it comes to messaging.
If you were to look at most websites in any industry and remove the branding and company name…I bet you’d be hard pressed to distinguish one company from the next.
In fact, I bet most of the owners of these companies would be hard pressed to pick out the copy from their own website out of the lot!
And, not only does the messaging for competitive sites basically say the same things, but the content is often mind-numbingly boring.
All this gets to the cornerstone of what truly effective marketing is based on…being unique and standing out in the marketplace.
- People can’t steal your story or the story of how your business got started.
- They can’t steal your passion.
- They can’t steal your voice.
- They can’t steal your unparalleled customer service.
- They can’t steal your ethics and honesty.
All these things can go into making up your unique selling proposition (USP) and, if your USP is truly unique, ain’t nobody that can steal that from you.
So how do build a website and business that your competitors can’t copy?
- Put videos of you on your site demonstrating the value you provide, letting your personality come through and establishing your credibility.
- Put video or audio testimonials on your site that feature real customers singing your praises.
- Tell your story and/or your business’s story with passion and in detail.
- Offer a ballsy guarantees the competition don’t have the backbone to put out there.
- Highlight the awards you’ve won, recognition you’ve achieved, credentials you’ve earned.
The more you can differentiate you and your business from the competition in a way that’s truly valued by your prospects, the less likely they’ll be able to be able to ride your coattails to success….whether they’re a German billionaire or a competitor down the street.