by Yann Girard — Get free updates of new posts hereTweet
This is something I learned while doing business in China. If you’re afraid of copycats, of people stealing your ideas, your products and then offer them for cheap, you have to be your own copycat. But before being afraid of copycats stop right here and read this first.
I’m not saying that you offer it on your website or in the name of your current brand. Just create a new brand, register a new company and copy the shit out of your own products. After all you already have all the suppliers, your backend or whatever.
Do you sell physical products? Easy! Then offer the exact same product, with fewer features, lower quality but for a lower price. Just create a new company and start copying. You already have all the contacts to get your stuff produced. Why not use them?
Offering a digital product? Copy your own product and distribute it for free. That’s what I’m actually doing with most of my content and digital products. There are outlets where you can get my book for free in exchange for an email address or whatever.
If you liked the free copy you might be interested in getting the next product as well. And maybe even pay for it. And I already have your contact details. I own the customer relationship. That’s how you turn people that you would never ever have seen on your customer list into paying customers.
The approach to be your own copycat can actually be applied to any sort of business out there.
Afraid of damaging your company’s reputation by offering cheap products with lower quality? That’s why you’ll found a new company that produces and distributes it. And the best part:
No one can sue you because of some sort of infringement or what not, because there is only person that could do it. And it's you!
Still not convinced? Here are a few reasons why this totally makes sense:
1) You will get a better feeling about the entire market size, the customers and get a chunk of the market that would otherwise not have bought your product.
2) You might be able to build artificial barriers to entry because a copycat is already out there and margins seem to be lower and another copycat looks a lot less attractive.
3) You can experiment with introducing new products through the copycat. Pretty much market research on the actual market for free. And you don’t damage your main company’s reputation in case you bring a shitty product to the market.
Most of the big companies have already realized this and do it in one way or another.
An API for example is nothing else than offering people the opportunity to use your product, build on it and pay money to license it (or for free). Sometimes it’s just to make the core product more attractive and use outsiders to create new ideas and offer additional value to existing customers.
Same holds true for Apple/Google and so on that offer their platform to create apps. It's about the ecosystem around the core product.
Adidas took a similar approach by introducing its new brand NEO (but under the Adidas brand name). It’s the exact same concept. You offer your product for a lot less but with lower quality.
The recent move of Tesla is like copying your own product, but on steroids. It’s all about open source and open innovation these days.
For starters it might already be enough to think about copying your own product and offering it for less or with fewer features.
Who knows maybe the copycat company performs a lot better on the market than the main company. Then you’ll just stick to the copycat company and shutdown the other.
The best thing about it: In case you’re afraid that someone might try to regulate your stuff, you can simply shut one of the companies down or simply acquire the other for quite cheap.
And why the hell not? You’re the boss of both companies and you can do whatever the fuck you want. After all, it's the Wild, Wild West out there...