Within the Social Collective we’ve been talking in depth about how to deal with other similar businesses replicating our work. It seems this is a hot topic at the moment.
So hot in fact that just as I thought everything was hunky dory in my world I received an email from a friend saying “Have you seen this, it looks remarkably like yours?” She’d attached a link and was referring to a brand new Collective that had launched.
Yes I had seen it and I too could see immediately the striking similarities between my Social Collective and this new one.
I am wise enough to know mine isn’t going to be the only one in the world. There are loads of Collectives out there with more popping up all the time. But this one and it's entire concept, features and mechanics are identical to mine. Familiar and too similar for my liking.
Surely not a coincidence?
It appears not as shortly after another two emails popped into my mailbox saying “Have you seen this?”.........
I forwarded the message on to my husband for sound advice. His response was swift. “Plagiarism”. He doesn’t mince his words.
Sadly it’s not the first time someone else has decided they rather like the look of something I’ve created. It is easy to like the look of what someone else does and try to pass it off as your own. But not so easy in the long run. Eventually you get found out.
A LinkedIn e-book I wrote and gave away for free, was sent back to me with the logo switched to another, a few pages jigged around and re-formatted, some removed and words tweaked but ultimately I recognised it immediately as my work. When presented with the same like for like format and your own words staring back at you on the page, it doesn’t take long to it suss out. Hells bells this is mine.
I just so happened to be on this particular pilferers email list so fortunately I too received my new free ever-so slightly tweaked LinkedIn ebook download as a bonus. Along with all the other people on her list. I promptly removed her from mine and all my social pages. That would be the last time she'd be receiving a "gift" from me.
Moving on from e-books to websites. My second website for Scarletta had a cute boy with a flat cap speaking in to a horn. He appeared throughout my branding at the time. Until a similar local business decided to replicate my brand and instead of the boy with the flat cap they’d use a girl. I received more “Have you seen this website” emails from friends and acquaintances......... And realised Hells bells it’s time for a new website and brand.
I swiftly got to work and created Scarletta website number three and made a conscious decision from that point forward never to use stock images again. Everything I used I would create and the photo images would be taken by my husband. The problem was solved.
Until the next time.
Have you had your stuff pilfered too? You’re not alone.
I’ve heard many tales from other petite business owner and creatives who show up and share their best work online only to have someone else decide they’ll have some of that too. It could be an image or an idea shared on a blog post or even an entire sales page, copied and pasted onto another businesses new website. Why get a copy writer to write up your services when it's easy to just take yours?
Or someone may even go as far as working with you as a client. Receive all your wonderful nuggets of wisdom and then decide that thanks to you they are now an expert and set up their business just like yours, offering the same service as you. As you made it look so easy, so surely it must be?
This is happening all the time whether we like it or not.
So what do you do, do you challenge them all guns blazing? Fire off a snotty email or make an awkward phone call? Or do you go even further and trademark your work? This can be expensive and you can’t trademark everything.
Or do you decide enough is enough and seek legal advice. Hmm now there’s an idea. Because why should you just take this on the chin and pretend it didn't happen?
Of course the world is a big place, there are plenty of people and there can be enough work to go round for everyone so why the fuss? Especially if it is your word against theirs. Pun intended.
If you are like me, you put your heart and soul into everything you do for your people and clients and it is not there for the taking.
You put your time and energy into coming up with perfect ideas to support and continue serve your clients and tribe.
You put your own creativity into creating your services, products and establishing your own living brand so you know and so does your tribe that without a shadow of doubt everything is authentically true to you.
You put hours of work into diligently learning, growing and evolving so that you can share your own insights and expertise and tell your stories in order to help serve the very people who need to hear what you have to say.
You don’t do any of it for someone else to pass off your creations as theirs.
Only we can decide personally what action we choose to take. For me it’s not something I will tolerate. I will pursue them every single time.
In our world of free online content you have to keep it in the forefront of your mind that once you have published something you have soulfully created, you have little control over what happens to it from that point forward. But that doesn’t mean you do nothing.
What you do have absolute control over is to not hit the brakes and let it deter or detract you from your soulful work and mission. You don’t stop doing what you set out to do. It doesn’t mean you stop sharing your wisdom and work with others just in case someone else may copy it. And it definitely doesn’t mean you shrink back or remove or rewrite your original sales page just in case other people may think you are the one who copied them.
No. You allow yourself to be a bit pissy. For a while. 24 hours at the most. And then you pick yourself up, dust yourself down and carry on. As you were. Focused on what you intended. Heading back into your creative cave. To cook up some more ideas and unique creations that you are going to bring into fruition.
You continue to share your wisdom. Speak your own truth. And keep showing up online and off as you really are in the way only you know how.
Because you are one of a kind.
The fact is no one can be you. No one else has the same ideas, insights, approach, views, beliefs or expertise as you. Someone else simply cannot be you or your petite business. However hard they may try.
If you want to continue to be known, loved and trusted as a the credible expert, the leader in your field and an authentic change maker you owe to it yourself to make your mark and keep putting your own soulful stamp on everything you do.
Which enables others to know the real you as it’s your heart and soul written on the page. Your words speak in a way that only you can express them. Your images show precisely who you really are and demonstrate the true experience of what it feels like to work with you over and over again.
This is what true authenticity and transparency means.
Because let’s not forget, other people can detect an imposter without us having to waste any more time and energy on them. We have to trust copy cats will eventually be exposed and will move along onto another venture eventually.
As for our Social Collective, when I launched back in November I deliberately and consciously didn’t put everything on my website or sales material. I took a new and different marketing approach as fortunately for me I couldn’t get everything down onto one sales page. There was too much for me to say. So it was only those people who registered directly with me who received every little detail in its entirety. This approach served me very well. It's not all for the taking and most importantly I could ensure that the genuine people who were considering joining us knew precisely what they needed to know from me and not just via my website.
Somebody once told me.......
Someone I knew who offered a similar service to me once told me at a networking event that she could see how well my business was doing and felt that she was just a couple of steps behind me. She admitted copying my marketing and social approach as it seemed to work. Brave I thought.
What she didn't know, maybe she has realised now is that however hard she tried her business would never be the same as mine. Because I never keep still. In my life or my business. I am never complacent and find myself constantly buzzing with new ideas and concepts. Nothing is ever static. It's always evolving. Growing, blooming and transforming.
I wished her luck and walked away, chuckling to myself as I moved to talk to someone else. I didn't feel this was a threat or competition. Or anything to be remotely concerned about.
As I know just like you and your petite business we're simply all one of a kind!