It’s tough not to fall victim to me-tooism in our competitive media landscape. There are oohs and ahhs to reap, awards to win, client and board expectations to exceed and egos to stroke. So we see something shiny and we chase it. We see a toy and call it a tool, and make it part of our marketing program.

And who can blame us? We’ve got boss/client/coworker/thought-leader/consultant/blogger/friend/avatar telling us we need to embrace (whatever piece of) technology before it’s too late.

But what if it’s too soon? What if there’s never a good time to adopt? What if we’re adopting a technology or approach that could fundamentally shift the relationship we have with our audience in a detrimental way?

competition-jump-off-bridge (1)

Image by ell brown

If it seems like I’m exagerrating the issue of copycat marketing, take a look at this recent data from Pitney Bowes:

In a survey, Pitney Bowes asked small business owners for the reasoning behind marketing tactics they employed. The results?

  • 30% of small businesses are using social media because their competitors are
  • 29% are using QR codes for this same reason
  • And 25% are doing mobile marketing because the competition is using mobile marketing

Sure, these might be signs that small businesses are in touch with the competitive landscape and they’re doing their part to stay afloat. It could also mean that these tactics are right for them and they’re ahead of the game.

But it could also mean that they were employing the strategy just because they thought “everyone else” seemed to.

To those that subscribe to the “because my competitors are doing it” logic, I present to you these questions to ask before you make your lemming leap:

1. Is my audience actually using this service or technology?

There’s no prize for beating your audience to the future.

2. Am I replacing something old and tired but incredibly useful?

If your audience digs your print magazine, you’ll ruffle a lot of feathers teling them to download their next issue with no warning.

3. Have I asked my audience what they think of this?

The amount of information available to you is incredible when you’re just willing to ask.

It’s tempting to jump on to a bandwagon (or off a bridge) just because it seems like everyone else is. But do so at your own risk.

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About Andrew Hanelly

Andrew Hanelly

Andrew is SVP, Strategy for McMurry/TMG and for one semester in college, was a sociology major. He writes at Brain on Digital, as @hanelly on Twitter and here on Google+.

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  • http://www.twitterblogpost.com Babu M varghese

    Twitter and Social Media in Helping Small Business Amazing Here is an article to support you. http://bit.ly/q7GjWc . I still do not know why people are madly after social media and ignoring other medium for promoting business. “Everybody do that so why shall i make a try?” is the concept deployed by all marketers it seems

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  • http://www.contentequalsmoney.com Emma Richardson

    Understanding your audience is absolutely key; you could not be more spot-on here. I think too many small businesses make the early, rookie mistake of launching a marketing campaign willy-nilly, aimed at anyone and everyone who happens to be within a five block radius of their marketing gun-sights. You have to understand your desired demographic and ideal client before you can expect to make decent sales.

  • http://www.gadarian.com David Gadarian

    Great stuff. The Me Tooism has the capacity to hurt businesses rather than help.  

    If I were to add another point to this post, it might be that businesses should also consider is time/learning investment.  Just because you have you have created a space Twitter/Facebook/mobile version of your site, does not mean these tools run themselves.  A half baked effort can tend to make a business look flat.  

  • http://www.socialmarketingdynamics.com/ Sydney @ Social Dynamics

    Great points! Whatever venture a company wants to enter, one should always carefully deliberate about its long term effect on the brand. 

  • Kusumindiakhoj

    I think too many small businesses make the early, rookie mistake of launching a marketing campaign willy-nilly, aimed at anyone and everyone who happens to be within a five block radius of their marketing gun-sights.thanks for sharing

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