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How to Ethically “Steal” From Your Competitors

It seems so obvious…but I can tell you first-hand that many marketers just don’t do it.

They don’t take the time to learn from their competitors.

If you’re a sports fan, you’ve most likely read stories about professional coaches who spend 18 hour days watching film of their upcoming opponents. 

On the surface, of course, it sounds absolutely insane to spend so much time in a dark room making notes about whether 300-pound blockers push to the left or to the right.

So why do they do it?  To gain an edge.

Believe it or not…the same idea applies to marketing.

The days…hours…or even just minutes you spend investigating the lessons already learned by your competitors could save you thousands of dollars or more in your next campaign.

In some cases, it may be enough to simply examine an ad that you’ve seen a half-dozen times to try and understand what might be working about it.  In other cases, you might need to examine a cross-section of competitors and find out who they’re marketing to…what message they’re using…and how they follow up.

The simple truth is, you can start picking up valuable knowledge – quickly and easily – with just a few steps.

Here’s how you can get started “stealing” ideas from your competition:

* For internet marketers: Carefully “seed” yourself on as many lists as possible.  It may take a small amount of effort, but if you truly want to get an idea of how your main competitor treats a customer, you need to become one.  Set up a dedicated e-mail address and use it solely for the purpose of signing up for your competitor’s free e-letters and ordering his products.  Then you’ll see exactly how your competitor communicates with a customer, including frequency…consistency of message…and price point.

* For direct mail marketers: Work with a list broker to get your name – or various pseudonyms – “seeded” on your competitor’s lists.  You’ll not only learn which promotions your competitors are mailing…you’ll also see what other offers are working to those lists…and that knowledge can be invaluable to you.

Now it’s important to remember one thing when it comes to researching the competition:

You’ll pick up valuable knowledge, but…

Remember…your competitors’ ideas aren’t necessarily better than yours.

The knowledge you’ll gain by studying the competition is like a two-mile “head start” in a five-mile race.  You’ll quickly learn lessons that it may have cost your competition thousands of dollars to learn.

But that doesn’t mean they’re expert marketers.  Not by any stretch.

So you shouldn’t simply follow their lead.  Your task is to take the knowledge you’ve gained and apply it to your own big ideas.

When you do that successfully – you’ll be on a much faster path to success than someone who presses ahead blindly and ignores the competition.  And before you know it – you’ll find your competition examining your business to see what they can learn!

Jody Madron is a results-oriented copywriter with more than 20 years of breakthrough marketing experience.  To learn how Jody can deliver results-boosting copy — ahead of your deadline — visit

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"7 Mistakes to Avoid in Hiring a Copywriter"