If you feel I’m advocating ‘Imitation’, you’re right! I disagree with Herman Melville who said ‘It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation’. ‘Imitate and improve’ is anytime a better strategy than ‘Imagine and Innovate’. Innovation calls for a long cycle of trial and error which is costly, stressful and time consuming. We definitely can’t afford to make all the mistakes ourselves and learn from it.
Imitation definitely is not a revolutionary idea. We all grew up imitating other people, especially our parents. Great products and companies like McDonalds, MasterCard, Wal-Mart, iPod etc are based on lesser known original inventors. Imitation can help you to succeed in both business and job. Let’s see how it’s done.
I will take the example of a hugely popular mobile game ‘Subway Surfers’ which is a blatant but brilliant clone of even more popular game ‘Temple Run’. There are at least a dozen ‘Temple Run’ clones but none of them came even close to the stupendous success achieved by ‘Subway Surfers’
Find a Successful Model
Finding a suitable and successful model is the key in this approach. Whether you want to be a successful blogger or speaker or photographer or entrepreneur or whatever else, you have plenty of successful models in front of you.
For mobile game developers, ‘Angry Birds’ and ‘Temple Run’ are the icons of success. Kiloo games selected Temple Run as the base for their own game. The choice was intelligent since it was a newer, simpler and more addictive with lesser clones in the market.
Find the Gap
Any business model will have gaps or drawbacks which would make it unsuitable or unavailable for a section of the potential customers. This drawback could be related to geography, language, money, quality, capacity etc. You simply can’t find a perfect product.
‘Temple Run’ had gaps too. The major gap was its lack of appeal to little kids. The ancient temple setup with terrifying creatures and mystic yellow and dark color scheme was not particularly child friendly. My 3-year-old son is afraid of black demon monkeys in Temple Run.
If you can’t find any gap in an idea, try posting it in Facebook stating that it’s the perfect idea you’ve ever seen. You’ll most definitely get a dozen replies pointing out its deficiencies. You will also get insights from various product reviews posted on internet.
Close the Gaps and Add Your Magic sauce
Kiloo Games developed Subway Surfers as children’s game, though it’s played by people of all ages. It’s colorful and has funny kid characters. In addition they removed the tilting controls to make it even more children friendly. They even added additional features like Jetpack, Facebook connection etc. which made the game funnier and more addictive.
As of result of this creative imitation coupled with their excellent marketing, Subway Surfers, now boasts a total of more than 200 million downloads.
Do you still believe it’s better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation?