The one sentence summary

Copying is to be cherished, and you can do smarter marketing by using other people’s ideas.


  • Copying strategies really work, so you can do smarter marketing by using other people’s ideas.
  • Constantly trying to come up with something original can be futile. Instead, look to successes elsewhere and apply them to your issue.
  • Tight, ‘single white copying’ (named after the film Single White Female) is no good for innovation because it just repeats slavishly what’s been done before.
  • Copying loosely works well and allows for error and variation.
  • Good copying seeks to fix broken things, and is productive when you look far away rather than close by.
  • This is a workbook to help you make intelligent marketing decisions.
  • The method is best understood by using the proposed maps.
  • Map 1 plots whether the behavioural choice is informed or uniformed, and whether it is made independently or socially:

  • Map 2 identifies the nature of the decision making process in each quadrant:

    • Map 3 specifies what type of marketing approach will work best for each quadrant:

    • So in total:

    Informed + independent = considered choice  > Better strategy

    Uninformed + independent = guesswork > Salience strategy

    Informed + social = copying experts > Expertise strategy

    Uninformed + social = copying peers > Popularity strategy

    • There is then a pattern book containing 52 suggested strategies to try. These can be copied and tested once the right quadrant is defined for the task.


    • What Kinda Thing? provides an early rangefinder for progress.
    • What kind of thing is this?
    • What kind of solutions might be appropriate?
    • What might that look like?
    • This iterative way of investigating strategies is far more fluid and informative than detailed planning, and allows you to move much faster.


    • This is not so much a book that you read end to end. Instead, get the gist of the method, home in on your task, and then use the most appropriate techniques to get a result.