Critical Thinking – Mental Health & Wellness Series
The soul line dancing industry is outwardly competitive, it is an industry based on everyone having a good time. Often times, you can see people referring to the community as “The Line Dance Family”, however, in every industry, including soul line dancing, there are elements of major competitiveness.
Whether it’s for awards and recognition, or for furthering professional aspirations, competition is a real thing, even within the soul line dancing family.
In many cases, professional competition isn’t a bad thing, consumers are usually the benefactors. It forces everyone to improve and give customers more options. But what happens when the competition starts mimicking exactly what you're doing?
Imitation Is The Sincerest Form of Flattery
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and although it may be true in certain parts of your life, it is not reassuring when it happens in the business world (and that includes the business of soul line dancing). When you’ve thought of a great concept or idea, having someone else trying to latch onto your niche that you’ve spent months or years building can be frustrating, especially when done without proper recognition and acknowledgement.
Too often, people sit on the sidelines and wait for others to find success and if they see it working, they will pounce on the idea, often claiming it as their own, just for that acknowledgement or aforementioned awards and recognition. Copycats are rarely successful long term; however, it can get annoying, and if one loses focus, it can stifle your creativity. Without consent and or acknowledgment, this makes networking virtually impossible and puts a firm barrier between the two groups.
What we DO NOT do about line dancing copycats
Before I dive into how to protect your ideas, I want to discuss what I DO NOT do to protect our ideas.To avoid the risk of permanently burning a bridge, we have not chosen the route of suing anyone or doing anything from a legal standpoint.This isn’t to say we do not have trademarks and things set legally to protect ourselves, but we view this as declaring nuclear war on someone within the industry.How anyone else chooses to handle this issue is totally up to them, however, for us, we believe a legal (nuclear) remedy isn’t necessary based on three reasons:
Copycats won’t sustain long term success without knowing why we do what we do.
It is an acknowledgement that others are following us and we are the industry leaders.
We must make our brand impossible to copy. If we work harder, they will have to work harder to copy.
We also rarely challenge or confront copycats. When we have seen someone directly copy what we have done, we take mental note and adjust accordingly. There have been times that copycats have called and asked for details on what we are doing and how and that’s usually the time when it hurts them the most. This is when we are not “Line Dance Family” so to speak and I treat them like a competitor that is looking to copy our niche or idea. I give little to no details on that idea or any other.
One leader called and asked for details to copy something 410 Line Dancers is doing, and I explained that they should not get themselves into a bad relationship with us by copying what we are doing. Of course, this didn’t make them walk away, but it made it impossible for that group to network with us after that from our end.
4 Ways To Protect Your Ideas
1. Do something totally unique
We spend more time and effort (and sometimes money) designing one-of-a-kind products, and services. We create unique value propositions for our customers, and just thinking about value propositions for customers is a break from the normal dance instructor thought process. To replicate that, our competitors would need know what a value proposition is, learn what ours is, then create theirs to match or replicate what we do. With all those steps, there’s no easy way to copy us.
2. Offer superior goods/services
Even though we offer what we consider superior products, they are easily replaceable. What is not easily replaced is quality customer service. If you offer superior service, you build consumer trust.
3. Build brand loyalty
When you work hard over an extended timeframe to develop brand loyalty, customers won’t immediately run to the copycat item just because it may be cheaper. They will take all the factors into account and will be more likely to stick with your brand.
4. Focus on your own business
The biggest issue that affects line dancing leaders is an inability to focus, especially when faced with adversity. We have to be able to block out the outside noise and focus on what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. We do not let competitors get into our head. We see it, privately acknowledge it, make a plan to move forward and move 410 Line Dancers in the direction we are aspiring to move it. At some point, you must forget about whatever’s going on around you and focus on your own products and services. You control your business, no one else.
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