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7 ways to stay ahead of your business’s imitators

Posted by Shivali Anand

November 17, 2021    |     4-minute read (666 words)

Imitation is said to be the purest form of flattery. But it’s hard to feel impressed when you discover that another company is copying your business concept and seemingly mirroring every step you take.

When a new concept is effectively implemented, it's natural for other businesses to want to copy it. That’s why dealing with copycat competitors is a common issue for most businesses, regardless of industry. You may encounter firms that steal your plans, your strategies and occasionally even your logo.

You’ve worked hard to set yourself apart from the competition. But what should you do if a competitor copies your business concept? Here are seven tactics to stay ahead.

Protect your company on the legal front

The first step is to ensure your company is legally protected. The more legal protection your firm and product/service have, the better off you will be in the long run. Intellectual property is protected by trademarks, patents and copyrights. A trademark protects logos and brand names on products and services, while a copyright protects an original literary or creative work. A patent protects an invention. Assess the type(s) of IP protection you require based on the nature of your organization and the products or services you provide.

Second, you must also safeguard your trade secrets, also known as company assets, which are an important type of IP. Manufacturing methods, assets, client lists and sales strategies all constitute trade secrets and you may have to reveal such trade secrets to workers, suppliers, vendors or other organizations while running your business. Having someone sign a nondisclosure or noncompete agreement is a straightforward approach to secure your trade secrets.

In the event of a legal dispute, these protections could serve as proof because they provide timestamps for when your concept or business was started.

Confront the copycat

Contact a copycat firm or business owner immediately if you stumble across one. Call them and have a calm conversation with those in charge and inform them that you are aware they are copying your product. Be clear that you will take legal action against them if necessary.

If talking doesn't work and things get out of hand, consult a lawyer about sending them a cease-and-desist order or if necessary, file a lawsuit.

Boost brand loyalty with superior service

Many products can be easily duplicated, but exceptional customer service cannot. Customers will likely keep returning if you provide excellent service.

Invest in brand loyalty. It will be more difficult for loyal clients to abandon you for the sake of saving a few dollars. Customers are astute and they will weigh all options before choosing to go with a competitor.

Make over your company

While you don't want to lose customer goodwill, it could be time for a business makeover. Make slight adjustments while maintaining your company's integrity to demonstrate to your audience that you can pivot. This will also make the person or company who copied you appear out of date. Consider this an investment rather than an expense.

Persuade customers to speak on your behalf

Asking consumers for testimonials about you and your company is one of the most effective methods to stand out. These will be unique to your business and consumers. Let customers share their experiences with you and the impact you’ve had. This will also bolster your reputation and strengthen your brand.

Study your copycats

In certain circumstances, studying copycats can inspire you to grow. They'll either make the same errors you made, or they'll make fresh ones from which you can learn. These blunders could spark new ideas, reveal flaws in your product or service and make you reconsider long-held assumptions.

Concentrate on your business

Finally, remember that if you're being copied, it's because you're doing something well. It's also possible that you're leading the industry. Try to keep thoughts about your imitators at bay and don’t let them inside your head. Instead, redirect your attention to developing and improving your brand.

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