On 29th June we gathered together a host of other agencies and locked them in a vault - the Vault Room in Revolution Leadenhall for our Jibber Jabber event.

Jibber Jabber is a chance for our agency peers, partners and in fact, anyone who’s digitally-inclined and up for mingling, to get together. It’s a relaxed event; simply an opportunity for us to share beers, mini burgers, ideas and business cards - often leading to the sharing of leads and opportunities at a later date.  

To help get the conversations going we start Jibber Jabber with a debate. Not the type of debate you’ve been seeing on the telly recently but something light-hearted and of course digitally-related.

We sourced two digital minds, Dan Rounds from Usabilla and Simon Bell from Diligent Commerce and asked them to battle out the merits of this statement “when in doubt, copy the competition”. Rob said immediately “no, you should never copy” and Simon was bolder and decided that he’d debate err…yes, you should copy the competition. Rather brave we thought in a room full of people who could be deemed as the competition

At 7pm it all kicked off, debate-wise. Simon began by referencing a very recent and highly-publicised court case over the riff for ‘Stairway to Heaven’. Randy Wolf (who?) believed that he wrote the riff for the chorus and that it was stolen by Led Zeppelin. In large, Led Zeppelin won the case. Simon argued that this teaches us that unless it’s patented or trademarked then it’s fair game - I suppose a sub lesson is to get it patented or trademarked.

Simon continued by referencing another artistic big wig, Picasso who famously said “good artists copy, great artists steal”. But it’s not just artists who steal continued Simon.  Japan has a culture of copying with the kaizen philosophy. Simon believes that Japan got great not by inventing things but by taking good things and making them better, for example motorbikes.  

“Copy one person and it’s plagiarism, copy two and it’s research” was the crux of Simon’s closing statement. He argued that we live in a sharing age. Jibber Jabber itself is a sharing event. So Simon’s advice? Share generously and steal shamelessly, after all imitation is the highest form of flattery.

Some good points from Simon and some pretty strong ideas for Dan to counter but counter he did, stating the extremely valid point that if you copy someone you’re assuming they know what they’re doing.

Dan’s argument was much more rooted in the day-to-day. In his day job, Dan speaks to a lot of web designers from a number of businesses. He said he frequently hears phrases like “in my opinion” or “I think”. It’s all opinion-based and not rooted in facts, figures and data. 

He argued that CEOs get together with their web agency, who present something that looks pretty and functions well. Or at least it functions well for what they want, but not necessarily what their customers or indeed other businesses want.

Each business is unique (if it’s not, it should be) so it has different customers with different needs, preferences and ideas about what’s great. If you don’t use data to build a bespoke offering for your own customers, then you’re not speaking to your own customers and potential customers.

Then Dan brought out the big guns, with a quote from Steven Hawking “the greatest enemy of knowledge is the illusion of knowledge”. Dan’s point being you should find out what works, not assume.  

In his closing statement Dan argued that if you’re copying the competition you’re not innovating so how can you aspire to be the best? You’ll always be behind. If you must copy the competition then at best it can be seen as a hypothesis. Use it as a test but don’t assume you can just cookie-cutter copy and see the same results or indeed, any results at all.

So, the arguments were laid out. In the red corner we had Simon, Led Zepplin, Picasso and Japan and Dan was in the blue corner with Stephen Hawking. And the winner?

Dan. Don’t copy, innovate.

This event was possible due to the kindness of our sponsors, Usabilla who provided the food and drink for the do. We would like to point out that their sponsorship did not buy them rights to win the debate! That was all down to Dan.

Usabilla helps brands like HP, Adidas, Philips, Booking.com, Lufthansa, KLM and The Economist optimize their websites, apps and emails by collecting live user feedback. Over 20,000 clients worldwide use their 'Voice of Customer' solutions to improve user experience, increase conversions and boost customer satisfaction. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch with Dan or visit their website.