Why Your Marketing Strategy Needs More Testing and Less Imitation

Samuel DeCroes

One of marketing’s core functions is testing. Yet, I am always amazed at how infrequently marketers test their ads, landing pages, and product funnels.

The risks of this oversight aren’t trivial—they include lost revenue, missed market opportunities, and inefficient strategies that go unnoticed.

Early Lessons in Agility

In 2007, I got my first marketing job with one of the largest financial publishers in the world by readership. Our annual lead generation budget exceeded $1M, and we routinely acquired over 300,000 email addresses each year through AdWords and organic search.

Despite our substantial advertising budget, our team was only four people. This small size made us incredibly agile… ideas conceived in the morning could be tested by the end of the day. We lived by the mantra “ABT” – Always Be Testing.

This agility and relentless testing gave us a competitive edge for a time. We set industry standards for landing pages, ads, and copy. Our media buying was highly profitable, fueling rapid company growth.

However, growth brought challenges. We had turnover in key leadership roles, which led to hiring less experienced staff.

We also developed inefficient operational processes, slowing our ability to market ideas…

And then we made a critical error.

The Competitor Quagmire

Our slowdown coincided with a competitor’s rise. They had a talented copywriter and a lean marketing team that wasn’t bogged down by cumbersome processes.

Their superior ideas and swift execution eroded our market share heavily. As their strategies began to dominate, our company-wide marketing discussions focused on replicating their campaigns.

Of course, our weak imitations were unsuccessful. We lacked the leadership and creativity necessary to compete with them.


The efforts led to spiraling acquisition costs and plummeting sales. Eventually, our CEO announced that the competitor had become so large that they were no longer competitors with us at all…

This was a pivotal realization in my marketing career. While observing and learning from competitors is essential, the true advantage in marketing comes from continuously evolving and innovating beyond what others are doing.

Experiment with competitors’ approaches—like a new landing page or a fresh ad format. But remember, the key to gaining a real edge lies in developing and testing your unique ideas, pushing the boundaries of what’s currently being done.

The Importance of Testing

In competitive verticals like finance, where the stakes are high and the market is saturated, there’s a propensity to replicate what big players are doing. The big advertisers spend millions on testing… setting trends that many smaller advertisers hurry to follow, often leading to a homogenized market appearance.

But here lies the advantage for agile teams. My first job taught me that being able to pivot quickly is not just a survival skill—it’s a strategic superpower in marketing.

Teams that can make the fastest data-driven decisions… test, and adapt without the red tape that often entangles large companies will continually beat the competition, especially over the long term.

Embracing Agility and Innovation

So, what should you take away from this?

  • Prioritize continuous learning and testing.
  • Harness the insights from your tests to set the pace.
  • Keep an eye on competitors, but blaze your own trail.

By maintaining your unique selling proposition and continuously evolving your marketing efforts, your brand can thrive, regardless of competitive pressures.

Remember, in marketing, as in nature, the most adaptable to change are the ones that survive.


Sam DeCroes

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About the author

Specializing in digital marketing strategies and customer acquisition, I leverage my deep industry knowledge and innovative approaches to create campaigns that achieve results. Alongside Molly, my college sweetheart, we've made a home in the Greater Seattle Area. Surrounded by its serene beauty, I draw inspiration for my work, infusing every campaign with creativity and a unique perspective honed from years of experience. Read my full bio here.

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