"If Johnny jumped off a bridge, would you jump off too?" I can't remember how many times my parents asked me that when I was a kid. So many times I told them that I did something because my friend Johnny did it first. I bet you remember similar times from your childhood. Perhaps you've done something similar more recently.

It happens all the time. Businesspeople base their marketing on others -- their competitors, companies in dissimilar industries, much larger businesses -- to name a few. Few things could provide a worse marketing strategy. Few things could harm a company as deeply when it comes to promoting themselves. Few things leave me shaking my head in such wonderment.

Here's an example that's literally close to home for me. A couple of years ago, there was a company that was pounding the local airwaves ... radio and television. They were getting a lot of attention. People were talking about this small company and the exposure it was getting. Many of the same people concluded that the company must have been doing great and that the advertising must have been providing at least an acceptable return on investment. "Why else," they concluded, "would a company invest so much money in marketing?"

In fact, as a result, a number of competitors decided to step up their marketing. They were going to compete on the same playing field. Then they too would get a share of the seemingly valuable business the other company was getting. What they did not take into consideration was that the highly-visible company may have been spending money it didn't really have or didn't get back in sales. What they did not take into consideration was that even if the highly-visible company was marketing effectively, it didn't mean that the same would hold true for others who tried similar tactics. What they did not take into consideration was that they most likely didn't have the same budget or goals as the highly-visible company. All they wanted to do was jump off the bridge because they saw that company doing it and assumed it was successful.

So, after a while, the highly-visible company's marketing came to an abrupt end. No longer were you seeing or hearing all the commercials. In fact, unless someone brought up its name, the company was out-of-sight and out-of-mind. Recently, I drove by their location and noticed that they have gone out of business. Likewise, some of the companies that jumped off the bridge after them did not survive. They suffered the same fate as would be expected for anyone who indiscriminately jumps off a bridge.

So my advice to you is to take others' marketing into consideration, but plan your marketing based on your goals, your budget, and your capabilities. Do not jump off a bridge just because Johnny did it. If you do, in fact, blindly follow their lead, you may not like how the trips ends.

Author's Bio: 

As a speaker, author and coach, Peter George helps self-employed professionals achieve the success they've been striving for. His highly-acclaimed More Clients More Profits Workbook includes contributions from van Misner, Bob Burg, Susan Roane, Scott Ginsberg & others. Want to start attracting more clients right away? Claim your free copy of 101 Ways to Attract More Clients at =>