The 20 Percent Edition Nr. 35: “People Like Us Do Things Like This”

Hello friends, and welcome to this edition of The 20 Percent.

If you asked me to describe marketing in one sentence, my answer would be, “people like us do things like this.” 

To quote Seth Godin, “there is no more powerful tribal marketing connection than this.” Talking about tribal marketing connections is an interesting choice of words because it implies mimetic desire.

The problem with mimetic desire, the concept that we never actually know what we want — we only imitate what other people want, is that it cuts both ways

On the one hand, when we market our business, we invoke mimetic desire with our marketing copy, for example, “The world’s top athletes wear Nike.”

On the other hand, our approach to business and marketing often comes from seeing how other companies communicate and what they create.

It is a big challenge for entrepreneurs. If your posts seem too similar to other posts on the topic, it’s because you’re just following the Mimetic Desire Principle. If your marketing feels uninspiring, conforming to existing behaviors could be the reason behind it.

How to Avoid Mimetic Desire Shaping Your Marketing

Start With Your Goal First

Most entrepreneurs can’t honestly and explicitly articulate their purpose when they create content. Do you make it to acquire an audience? Or is your goal to educate your readers? Perhaps, your goal is to sell your product or build an email list? 

You have to be able to answer this question. If your goal is unclear, you will be consumed by the market, and your content will imitate what everyone else does.

Avoid Algorithmic Recommendations

“People who bought this also bought that” or “People who read this are also interested in that” can be a real distraction. Unless covering particular popular topics is part of your marketing strategy, allowing algorithmic recommendations (e.g., Google, YouTube, Amazon, etc.) to shape your content plan or marketing strategy is a bad idea.

Entrepreneurs fall into this trap because deciding on marketing strategy carries risk, and algorithmic recommendations represent less risk of choosing by inferring what is popular.

Final Thoughts

Business and marketing are complicated, dynamic situations. When there is no exact formula for something, copying what we see around us is our automatic response to minimize risk. 

Nevertheless, as humans, we prize originality. Being aware of mimetic influences can genuinely help you create better content and bring to life more original marketing strategies.

Stay inspired,
Konstantinos