Coffee Marketing Copycats Are Coming To Steal Your Good Ideas
I’ve had my hand in coffee marketing in some form or another since ~2014. And I’ve lost count of the number of times competitors and rivals have copied me.
Social media posts. SEO blog strategies. Signature drinks in the shop. At this point, I’ve seen it all. It used to bother me. Like, make me infuriated.
How dare they steal this clever idea I worked on for weeks as if it’s their own!
A couple of years ago, I learned the truth about stealing ideas in marketing (and especially marketing in the coffee industry).
Your competitors can never steal what’s most important to your brand. If the theft of an idea truly hurts your brand, it’s not their problem—it’s yours.
Allow me to explain…
0% of Marketing is Original Anyway
They say there is nothing new under the sun. In marketing, they’re right. It’s all been done before. All of it.
“Original” ideas are never truly original. When you zoom out, marketers:
- Take a tactic that worked on one channel (Instagram) and reimagine them for another (TikTok)
- Adopt a strategy from one industry (subscription cosmetics) to another (subscription coffee)
- Get inspired by friends and competitors (they have a summer drink menu? we should try a summer drink menu!)
- Reframe an idea or value proposition (sustainably sourced coffee) for their unique audience (Fair Trade only coffee)
I’ll admit, I’m “inspired” by competitors every day as I think through marketing next-steps for clients. It’s standard (and good) practice.
Whether it’s doing an SEO competitive analysis to find keywords I want to outrank competitors for, or seeing how many likes companies get on Instagram to measure customer excitement about promotions or new products.
We’re always building upon the work from those who have come before us (both in marketing, and in—well—everything else).
No Rival Can Steal Your Secret Sauce
Here’s the thing. Nothing is stopping your competitors from stealing the features of your business, or coffee, or service.
- Your roasting style? They’ll find a way to copy that
- Your email marketing strategy? Super easy to knock off
- Your clever Facebook ads? They probably already stole them
(Seriously, I’ve been saving Facebook ads for an article for months… they’re almost all the exact same!)
The un-copyable part of your business is the relationship you have with your customers—the intangible feelings they have for you.
How customers feel when they see your branding, or visit your location, or see your ads. The spark of emotion that makes them want to visit you again instead of your competitors. That’s the secret sauce. Everything else is extra.
I can remember another local coffee shop creating a “signature drink menu” just a few months after we did. At first it felt like such a scam (how original of them… even though we stole the idea too 😄).
Many of our more adventurous customers went to the rival shop to try their experimental coffee drinks. And then, after a time or two, they stopped. They came back to our shop, because that’s where they felt most welcome, cared for, and connected to.
Getting copied is an inevitability.
What matters is not that you keep it from happening.
What matters is that you give customers a reason to buy from you anyway.
Hey 👋 I'm Garrett Oden
Freelance Coffee Marketer
I'm a coffee industry native who works with coffee brands around the world to create and execute captivating marketing strategies.
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