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Neil Patel seems to be ripping Groove’s subscriber CTA. As growth hackers, what do you think of this? is it acceptable or unethical?

Groove's blog hero (been the same way for years):

Neil Patel's blog hero (first i've seen it):

  • SB

    Sean Bestor

    almost 3 years ago #

    I've been writing for years and have had a ton of people flat-out copy my stuff. Here's my stance on it...

    I think the more you steal in wordcount, the more heinous it looks/is. Copying a call to action that's 3 words or a subject line for an email isn't such a big deal. Less words to work with, so taking a theory and making it your own is harder with the allotted words.

    Once you start copying full emails word for word or landing pages/websites word for word, that's where I draw the line. I think it's ok to look at a big body of work, pick out elements and apply them to your work. But taking passages and structures word-for-word is a rip off.

    A lot of people subscribe to "If it works for someone else, do it" or "Steal like an artist" but those are just excuses for being lazy and not wanting to push forward and make something even better. Some people think it's flattery or say "you should be proud, your stuff works so well that people want to use it as-is." I can 100% tell you it doesn't feel like any of those things. It feels like a big middle finger to the writer, essentially saying "Yeah, we don't need you cause we can just steal your hard work and make it ours."

    Don't just steal stuff and call it "smarter marketing." Learn from it and make it your own. Otherwise you'll just be stuck copy-hoping and watching as original creators pass you by.

    • CS

      Claire Suellentrop

      almost 3 years ago #

      Hey Sean, fair point on shorter steals not being a big deal (3-word CTAs, email subject lines). And borrowing someone's FORMULA, but experimenting / tweaking to make it work for you, is 100% cool.

      But short as it is, I'd say Neil's copying of the "'from aha' to 'oh shit'" phrase from Groove falls in the complete ripoff category.

      What's worse (for Neil) is that from a brand association perspective, it makes me go "dude, what are you thinking?" Because when someone blatantly copies such a well-known piece of work, they not only fall into the lazy category; they tarnish their own reputation (it's hard to view someone as a trustworthy authority when I know they stole someone else's stuff).

      Then again, Neil's been known to use lots of tactics that could impart similarly slimy feelings, including an opt-in for a training webinar that's perpetually set to "start" in 10 minutes (clearly just a recording), and controversial ads: https://inbound.org/discuss/should-neil-patel-take-down-this-ad-is-it-sexist-downright-offensive

      So, hey, maybe he's reached the point at which he doesn't care about reputation anymore.

      • SB

        Spencer Blanchard

        almost 3 years ago #

        Claire, totally agree with you.

        At this point in his career, I'm sure it's a team member of his that is much lower on the totem pole.

        He is a phenomenal marketer and seems to get the results he is looking for, but at the end of the day, my approach might be different. :)

      • CS

        Claire Suellentrop

        almost 3 years ago #

        Hey Anuj, regarding this line: "We are likely not his target audience for his consulting services, so what we think doesn't matter because that doesn't impact his bottom line."

        Agree with you there. And at the end of the day, if he's getting subscribers and consulting clients, it's working.

        So I think the discussion transitions to this: if you were in his position, would YOU or I do it this way? If so, why? And if not, why not?

        But that could morph into a long thread about personal views, values, thoughts on the purpose of marketing, etc -- and would probably balloon into a conversation way larger the original topic :)

      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        almost 3 years ago #

        I'd like to attempt to qualify your last statement as "maybe he's reached the point at which he doesn't care about reputation from -marketers with some experience- anymore."

        We are likely not his target audience for his consulting services so what we think doesn't matter because that doesn't impact his bottom line. Not to mention none of this is going to stop many from still consuming his content.

  • NP

    neil patel

    almost 3 years ago #

    I took it from Groove, and I have even mentioned that in blog posts and linked to them on how they came up with the idea first.

    One of the founders (not sure if there are more than one) knows about it to as he interviewed me on on the Groove blog... they are good guys.

    Marketing is largely comes down to creativity and testing. They created something that works really really well, so I "swiped" it as they say in marketing.

    I know a lot of people hate my tactics and my style of marketing, and that's fine. But the stuff I do works... for example I learned one SEO hack (that's purely white hat) that took my search traffic from 283,324 in December to 449,914 in January. (I would attach screenshots, but I am not sure how to like the person "Ty" who started this thread).

    • NH

      Nash H

      almost 3 years ago #

      Hey Neil, It's great to see you reply to the thread. Would love to see you post some more advanced stuff exclusively for the GH audience. Cheers!

    • TM

      Ty Magnin

      almost 3 years ago #

      @neilpatel good of you to respond. it's refreshing to hear that you worked closely with groove on this. i apologize i missed the post explaining this, but i think it still yielded an interesting discussion.

    • AA

      Anuj Adhiya

      almost 3 years ago #

      Hey Neil- thanks for chiming in - really appreciate that.

      If you'd like to add screenshots above where Ty did, you should see an "edit" link at the top that will allow you to do that.
      If not, could you just add another comment with links to the screenshots - would love to see what you're talking about.
      Cheers!

  • DH

    David Hobson

    almost 3 years ago #

    Great question @tymagnin and reply from @sbestor (upvoted)

    I can see why people are raising the question of ethics, but headline swiping has been going on since the dawn of copywriting.

    The major publications just find what works and stick with it:
    http://gawker.com/5424291/update-mens-health-stopped-writing-new-cover-lines-years-ago

    Whenever I put something out onto the internet, I assume that if it's good enough it will be swiped/copied. But at the end of the day, it's the content, the brand and the relationship with the audience that counts. Also @neilpatel is always testing and tweaking, so this may just be the seed of an epic blog post.

  • MB

    Mike Barwick

    almost 3 years ago #

    The fact that Neil Patel is considered a "marketing god", I'd think he would be creative enough to come up with something on his own. This is a bit telling. We're fed from the spoon that feeds us, however we never ask where the spoon has been. That said, the fact we're talking about it here, now, might make him even more of a genius. Dare it be "intentionally" intentional?

  • BR

    Brian Rice

    almost 3 years ago #

    I can empathize with all points here however as I quote Jay Z from his track The Takeover
    "So yeah, I sampled your voice, you was using it wrong, You made it a hot line, I made it a hot song"
    JK couldn't help myself

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    almost 3 years ago #

    People take from each other's ideas all the time.
    For e.g every food delivery site offers a referral where you and the person you get to sign up gets some money. Would it be considered unethical for all the others to do this just because someone did it first?

    The bigger question for me is whether Neil (and everyone else) understands why this is working for Groove or is it just being done just because it got attention in some article as a cool acquisition tactic?

    If the "why" is clear, then hopping on a gravy train that works seems like something worth trying.
    After all, we're all looking for a slight advantage when it comes to acquiring users and if there is an opportunity to do something before everyone does the same thing, then shouldn't we be taking them?

    • SB

      Spencer Blanchard

      almost 3 years ago #

      Testing things should receive our time and attention. Copying tactic happens all the time but I think what Ty is saying, is it stealing by using pretty much the same copy? Some would say yes.

  • MH

    Mark H

    almost 3 years ago #

    Our Adwords ad copy (not easy to say a lot in a few characters) is CONSTANTLY stolen by competitors, clients' competitors. It flat out pisses me off. But there's absolutely nothing we can do but thank it for keeping us on our toes.

  • RP

    Roy Povarchik

    almost 3 years ago #

    Great question @tymagnin!

    I actually wrote 3 different answers before settling on this one.
    Sure, stealing a well-known copy can seem lazy, or even hurting your brand, but:
    1. If it works (gets great conversions) - should Neil care?
    2. Marketers copy from each other all the time - this is what copywriting formulas are for
    3. We tend to think everything knows everything (If you know GrooveHQ, you know Neil etc) - but it usually not true. Some people still might find Neil first and have a sense of novelty to the headline.
    4. Follow the numbers, not the ego - If this really tests out, maybe the fact that it works and generates new readers and subscriber is more important than the ego behind originality sometimes.

  • JN

    Jason Ng

    almost 3 years ago #

    This isn't a new concept. It's called plagiarism. This really begs the question on values...if there's no law against this and your motivation is to make as much money as possible - there's no question about copying what works. However, it's everyone of our responsibilities to keep the web authentic.

    • JD

      Jay Deiboldt

      almost 3 years ago #

      This is not plagiarism. Its called swipe. And it has been happening for the last 100 years in advertising. Anyone who takes issue with it, doesn't fully understand the power of it.

  • AB

    Andrei Baklinau

    almost 3 years ago #

    What's unethical in it?)
    It's just free web, where you can use and copy that you want.

  • EJ

    Evan J. Andriopoulos

    almost 3 years ago #

    It boils down to running out of fresh ideas to keep one´s brand in the digital spotlight, grabbing more emails from those unaware of the "copy" issue etc...

    For me I see this as watering down of a brand like over expansion of your favorite restaurant "chain"...

  • BD

    Becky DeForest

    almost 3 years ago #

    I believe that Groove borrowed it form Neil, not the other way around. And if I remember correctly, Alex got permission.

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