Exercise alternative appeal: 3 reasons why you shouldn’t copy big competitors

When it comes to messaging, small and mid-market companies find it tempting to mimic their large competitors. They assume the big brands have figured it out. And that they, as smaller competitors, can’t do better. Here’s why that’s not a good idea:

  1. Use your advantage—As a small or midmarket brand, your biggest advantage when it comes to messaging is creativity and flexibility.

Big brand are challenged to go outside their own box. Not because they don’t have creative people, but simply because their approval processes are so complex and convoluted. To get adopted, a new messaging strategy must survive steering committees, executive committees, governing boards.  That’s a lot of hurdles to overcome. As a result, messaging tends to be, well, predictable, so people don’t get too shook up.

As a smaller org, you have fewer people to please. You can propose a more creative and dynamic messaging strategy and get it approved. This can be a major advantage in the marketplace.


  1. Address your needs—As a smaller brand, you need to stand out, not blend in.

Big brands have name recognition even if they say almost nothing of distinction in their messaging. They don’t need to show up big because they already are big. And they have the marketing budgets to make their presence felt, even if what they say is perfectly unremarkable. As it often is.

As a small or mid, you need to strategically differentiate yourself in the marketplace. You need to show up. The cheapest most effective way to do this is to position yourself in a way that is distinct from your big competitors, not copy them.


  1. Exercise alternative appeal — talk to the audiences most likely to buy what you’re selling.

If people want the same old same old, they are going to go with the big brand. Because it’s more familiar and more visible. And in the B-to-B space, it’s a safer purchase for CYA purposes. So why try to win that business?

Exercise your alternative appeal for people who are looking or at least considering something different. The best way to signal real difference is to have something different to day. Not just for the sake of sounding strange, or shock value, but to send a more relevant message to your most interested audiences.

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