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Why Another Company’s Marketing Strategy Won’t Work for You

or “I’m Not Like Everyone Else!”
May 2, 2023
Why Copying Other Companies’ Marketing Strategies Won’t Work

You’re reading the third article of the “MythBusters” series, and we’re breaking apart popular myths about marketing practices — just like the hosts of the famous TV show, Adam and Jamie, did. And today’s myth is “This digital marketing strategy worked for another company, so it will work for us.” 

You may wonder how a myth like this even exists — every marketer knows a strategy should be personalized. But you’d be surprised how many companies have made the mistake of thinking that their friends’ or competitors’ marketing techniques would work for them. They also believe that copying is much easier than building from scratch. Guess what? It isn’t, and it leads to failure. 

We don’t want anyone to make this mistake, and that’s why we set out to bust the myth once and for all. So, put on your Jamie-like berets, and let’s begin, as usual, from the myth’s origins.

The origins of the myth

Like so often with myths of this kind, we don’t know when it first came about or who started it. But we have a theory of how this myth gained ground. Let’s call it “your mom’s friend’s kid.” 

You know who we’re talking about. Most of us have had to listen to some variation of the old nagging line: “Look how successful my friend’s kids are with their grades/jobs/personal lives. Why can’t you be more like them?”

And, in turn, most of us have rolled our eyes and maybe tried to explain, “Because I’m not them! Why can’t you see that we’re different people living in different circumstances?” 

And there it is. Just as your mom doesn’t stop to consider the differences between her friend’s kid and your unique circumstances, sometimes companies don’t think about their differences from their competitors and their respective audiences.

If you’ve been in a “your mom’s friend’s kid” situation, you already know that the myth is fundamentally wrong. But let’s leave family dramas aside and take a closer look at this myth from a business perspective. In particular, let’s consider why the idea of a “one-size-fits-all” marketing strategy is wrong.

Why you can’t use the same strategy as your competitors or friends

Let’s say you own a newly founded company that sells high-quality, stylish sneakers with simple and original designs. Let’s call it Convert. 

You decide to use the same marketing strategy as Nike because this is (obviously🙄) the only right choice. Nike also sells sneakers; it’s super successful and popular among your target audience – youth. Sure, you can’t just copy every post and slogan due to copyright laws, but there’s nothing stopping you from experimenting along the same lines. 

So, you hire a team of marketers and get started.  Aaaaand… Right from the off, everything goes wrong. 

LeBron James refuses to be your ambassador 

Actually, all the NBA players do. LeBron even considered your offer and agreed to help for free out of goodwill. But when you show him your sneakers, he doesn’t understand how he, the basketball legend, can represent your audience.

What’s wrong here?

Nothing is wrong with an influencer marketing strategy in general. But you’ve positioned your brand incorrectly, aren’t selling a unique value proposition, and are trying to involve the wrong kind of influencers. Your shoes suit street style, casual walking, and skateboarding.

LeBron James refuses to be your ambassador 

Nike focuses on sports, including creating shoes for professional athletes, even though it also has become a popular fashion choice. So, by copying Nike’s product marketing strategy and asking athletes to be your ambassadors, you’re trying to bring your target audience the value your product doesn’t possess. Not to mention it’s confusing your potential customers.

What's wrong here?

You can’t afford a Super Bowl commercial

Any TV commercial is actually too expensive for you – it costs $104,700 for a 30-second ad on average – let alone a Super Bowl ad. Sure, you can afford to air commercials on local channels, which cost $15-$25 per 1,000 views. But that isn’t what Nike does, and you want customers from every state in the country, right?

What’s wrong here?

This case is quite clear — Nike’s marketing budget is probably tens of times greater, if not more, than your company’s. So, the most lavish marketing techniques and approaches aren’t an option for you. 


Your SM marketer practically sleeps at work yet gets poor results

Your social media marketer works with Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, and even Pinterest, posting sport-related content to cover audiences from all social media channels. “The more, the better,” you say.

“Soon, we’ll have thousands of followers on every channel like Nike, and, consequently, new customers.” Only it isn’t happening. Occasionally, new customers do come from TikTok or Twitter, yet there’s no growth. 

What’s wrong here?

More marketing channels doesn’t mean more customers. But using the right channels and a content marketing strategy that mirrors your values does. By trying to emulate the same social media content as Nike, you’re aiming for the Nike audience — athletic young adults and adults. 

However, your audience is mostly teens who want to see content about style, individualism, and urban trends. So, you should generate content with those kinds of messages and narrow down your social media presence to the few channels that bring the best results. 

You don’t know why some customers stay and some leave

You see that some leads buy your sneakers and come back for a new pair later, while others lose interest at some point. But doesn’t Nike have the same issue? Generally speaking — yes, as the retail industry’s average customer retention rate is 63%

Crucially, though, Nike knows why that happens and works to improve its results, whereas you might not have a clue. 

What’s wrong here?

You don’t track metrics on different stages of the customer journey. Are you using the wrong messaging? Most likely. Or maybe your customer service isn’t up to scratch? Also possible. Without rough metrics, you’ll never know. 

Generally speaking — yes, as the retail industry's average customer retention rate is 63%. 

It seems that your content from a few months ago belongs to an entirely different company

When trying to copy another company’s marketing strategy, the worst mistake you can make is copying pieces of the marketing plan. How are these different? Let’s see. 

A marketing strategy is the company’s purpose, solution, and mission in promoting its products and brand in general. It includes the company’s long-term goals, target audience description, unique value proposition, and messaging.

A marketing plan is a roadmap or list of steps aligned with a marketing strategy to achieve the marketing goals. It includes a content plan for social media, communication channels, a schedule of different marketing efforts, etc. 

In simple terms, a marketing strategy is your goal to fit into those jeans, and a plan is your to-do list. 

So, when you pick up pieces of Nike’s marketing plan but don’t follow the general marketing strategy, your marketing effort falls apart like a cookie dunked too long in a cup of tea. It lacks consistency and gives poor results. 

To sum up, you can’t copy even the best marketing strategies without tailoring them to your unique needs and features. The only way to success is to build your own marketing strategy and plan, and we’re here to help you learn how.


A marketing plan is a roadmap or list of steps aligned with a marketing strategy to achieve the marketing goals.

How to build your marketing strategy

Building a marketing strategy and plan isn’t rocket science. However, it requires attention to detail and careful analysis of the market, your competitors, and your target audience.

Keep this in mind while following these steps:

Define your strategic goals

Define your strategic goals

Define your strategic marketing goal and connect it to the unique value proposition. Do you want to be known as a luxury brand? Or a tech-savvy legal company? State the goals, define long-term steps to achieve them, and follow the course.

Learn about your customers

Learn about your customers

Marketing research is the only approach to getting to know your customers. Define the average age, social background, preferences, and needs of your target audience to choose the right messaging. Don’t be like Huggies in 2012, when it made fun of fathers by painting them as incapable of taking care of their children’s dirty diapers. 

Choose proper communication channels

Choose proper communication channels

When you know your customers, choosing the proper communication channels won’t be a problem. Very roughly, teenagers prefer TikTok, while LinkedIn, as part of a social media marketing strategy, works best for B2B. 

Create the message and test it in a focus group

Create the message and test it in a focus group

To avoid big fails, use a focus group representing your target audience to check new marketing initiatives and messages. If your effort wasn’t successful, this marketing approach would have saved you money and your reputation. 

Use digital technologies in marketing (MarTech)

Use digital technologies in marketing (MarTech)

A MarTech platform is a vital tool to track the results of your marketing efforts and take away employees’ mundane tasks. For instance, Retainly aims to automate the tasks of customer engagement and email marketing strategies by sending triggered emails or collecting and systemizing lead information. As a result, you get enough data to make informed decisions and higher efficiency in marketing efforts.

Strategic planning for marketing isn’t that difficult when you have enough data to base your decisions on. And it’s much more effective than blindly copying the brand marketing strategy of other companies. 

The myth is busted. What does this mean for you?

The myth is busted. What does this mean for you?

Now, when someone suggests you use the same marketing strategy as another company, you’ll politely refuse: “No, thank you, I’m allergic to untailored solutions.”

Sure, you’ll consider your competitors’ and friends’ ideas and marketing strategy examples, as available marketing approaches aren’t that different from company to company. But you’ll think them through, choose the best, align them with your strategic marketing goals and messaging, and only then include them in your marketing plan. 

And, sure, after a while, you’ll look back and, using data collected by the marketing platform, check the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. At least, that’s our hope and recommendation for the success of your business. 

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