Is Copying Hurting Your Business?

Is Copying Hurting Your Business?

I’ll remember it for the rest of my life…I was 9
years old and in grade 4. When suddenly, out of the
blue, my best friend and I were called down to the
principal’s office for copying each others work.

That was the day that I experienced the sting of the
principal’s “strap” on the back of the hands for the
first and last time.

I remember explaining to my mother that night that we
weren’t cheating….we were collaborating. She didn’t
buy my excuse either…

How strange….In the academic world copying is a
huge sin…even worse than a dangling participle. But
in the business world it’s pretty much an accepted
practice. In fact, many start up companies have grown
to huge corporations by copying the industry leaders.

Sadly, when it comes to advertising your funeral home
you have to be VERY careful about copying.

Let’s say you copy an ad from your direct competitor
in town (the one that you love to win a call from).
They happen to create a great ad that you like and
you decide to copy it. DON’T DO IT!

Always remember the #1 golden rule of marketing….
if all things are equal the deciding criteria is….
price.

So by copying your direct competitor you have told
the market that you’re the exact same as your
competitor….therefore the deciding criteria is
price.

Do you want more price shoppers? If so, you’ve
succeeded.

Many funeral home owners try to solve this problem by
purchasing a “professional looking” ad from one of
the funeral industry ad agencies.

Unfortunately, these ads are just copies upon copies
upon copies. Plus they are filled with same old
overused phrases (courteous, caring, professional,
blah blah blah).

The end result is that ads like these send a message
to the public that every funeral home in the entire
country is the exact same. It’s a downward spiral
that’s dragging the entire industry down with it!

There are a lot of factors working together to create
the price shopper problem. Copying each other’s
advertising is not the only cause but it definitely
contributes to the problem.

At the start of this newsletter I mentioned that some
companies grow by copying others. Yet now I’m saying
that copying is killing the funeral home industry. So
which one is right?

Actually, both statements are right at different
times and in different situations.

Here’s a rule of thumb that I learned from my
business mentors years ago….

If your industry is rapidly expanding, an easy
strategy is to copy the leaders and grow with the
industry. For example, back in the 1990’s Dell copied
IBM’s personal computer and grew into a huge
corporation. They eventually overtook IBM and became
the leader in the pc market.

But if your industry is not expanding or if it is
contracting, you have to stand out in the crowd in
order to grow…and copies never stand out in the
crowd!

The best example of this strategy is Domino Pizza.
The founder Tom Monaghan had a fairly unimpressive
pizza delivery service until he came up with the
concept of “30 minutes or less or it’s free”.

His competitors didn’t offer that guarantee so he
stood out in the crowd…and grew a multi billion
dollar empire.

Now back to the funeral industry….

This industry is definitely not in the rapidly
expanding phase so copying each other will not secure
the future of your funeral home.

In 2009, it is critical that you find a way to stand
out in the crowd. Create your own uniqueness, market
it to your local community, and let them know that
you represent the future of the funeral services
profession.

As the poet Robert Frost said

Two roads diverged in a wood
And I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference

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