Are You an Imitation or an Original?

By Carmen Reed-Gilkison | Strategy

Sep 17
No Imitations - Be an Original

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," or so the saying goes; but is it? Or, is it something said to the person who realizes someone copied them  in an attempt to make them feel better about it?

(Hint: Reciting that mantra doesn't help.)

When I discover someone copying me, I feel a lot of things, but flattered isn't one of them.

We all like to think we're unique - right?

And we are!

So, let's act unique shall we?

Be brave and tap into your inner genius.

As a busy entrepreneur, you can find yourself feeling like you've gone through the ringer. You're expected to innovate, create, invent and solve known (and as yet unknown), problems for your clients - it's EXHAUSTING!

When we're exhausted, it's easy to look at what others are doing and "borrow" some of their tactics.

"I'll just do it this once," we tell ourselves; "Tomorrow my creativity will return, and I'll knock my own thing out of the park!"

It's even easier to justify if you've heard the saying "There is no such thing as originality," a shortened version of a Mark Twain quote:

There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn, and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”

Mark Twain, Mark Twain's Own Autobiography: The Chapters from the North American Review

But here's the thing; when you copy someone else's tactic, copywriting, website layout, [insert anything else here], you don't know the backstory behind it.

All you see is the tip of the iceberg.

Why are they using that tactic, copywriting, website layout, etc.?

We don't know, so how can using it possibly work for us?!

A tactic is not the same as a strategy; tactics are used to reach a goal, a strategy is an overall plan made up of tactics; this means a tactic, all by itself, won't get you very far if you don't know what the overall strategy is.

Nobody lays out strategies for others to copy. What we see as a person on the outside looking in, is the result of all the work that's gone into something, but we don't know what the work was, nor why it was done.

When I buy food at the store, I don't purchase imitation ingredients; I want real, healthy food. 


Photo by ja ma on Unsplash

The same goes for the products and services I buy; I want originals not imitations of something else.

The imitation is never as good as the original, and there's a reason for that; someone imitating someone else has to wait until the originator does it first.

The imitator is always at least one step behind. Since they don't know what the originator is thinking, planning, or strategizing they will never be the leader; they've firmly planted themselves in the role of follower.

That's a pity.

There's some truth to the Mark Twain quote above; many topics and ideas have been discussed and promoted a thousand times over, so how do you originate anything?

Use your expertise and knowledge about you, your business, and your industry to educate your audience. You are selling you, and nobody knows how to do you better than you!

Being inspired by something someone else is doing is entirely different from copying something someone else is doing.

Get a spark of inspiration and put your spin on it. Make it work with the strategy you have for your business. That's how you create something unique that will work for you and your business.

That's how you position yourself as the leader and the original.

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