Can you remember back to your days in school, when you would catch a classmate leaning in to “compare” their answers on a quiz or exam to your own? What happens when one of your competitors does the same thing, taking text, images, or other forms of “inspiration” from your website and using it on their own?
Copying is becoming a bigger and bigger problem these days. That’s partially because websites are now the focal marketing point for lots of businesses, but also because content is more valuable than ever. In other words, there’s a lot more on the line, and so we are seeing unscrupulous business owners and marketers get more aggressive about using what isn’t theirs.
So what should you do when you catch a competitor copying you online? Here are two good steps to begin with…
First, Figure out If You Have a Real Problem
If a competitor is merely imitating you, then you might just have to accept it as a part of life. While it’s certainly irritating to discover that another company is using marketing messages, or layouts, that are similar to the ones you use, there isn’t a lot you can do about it. If anything, they are acknowledging the fact that you’re a leader in the field, and that what you’re doing is working better than the things they have tried.
However, if the competitor is ripping off content word-for-word, or using copyrighted images without your permission, that’s a different situation. Contacting their web host with proof should be enough to get the site taken down immediately.
Then, Work Even Harder to Define Your Own Branding and Audience
Competitors can steal your content, but they can’t steal your business. The fact that they’re trying to imitate you in the first place means you have some kind of edge they don’t. If you can figure out what that is (maybe it comes down to pricing, service, or something else) then you can continue to emphasize it in your own messaging and keep the gap between your businesses growing.
Having a competitor copy you is annoying, but it’s not usually that big a deal. Follow the two steps outlined above, and you’ll ensure that anyone who tries to steal your content won’t be able to duplicate the success you have with it.
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