Uncopyable by Steve Miller

Buy the book here!


In a competitive market, how do you stand out? Reverse your thinking! Stop focusing on the tangible and copyable end deliverable – your product or service. Instead use Uncopyable – the ‘Orange Marketing Guide’ to ‘hunt your moose’ and elevate the intangible elements of your business – your branding, stealing genius innovation, and rockstar customer experience combined – to become unique. To become ultimately… UNCOPYABLE.


  • Study aliens. Steal Genius.
  • Learn why and how to hunt a moose.
  • Why a $0.96 tube of toothpaste could be your marketing gem.
  • The importance of the next step.
  • How to create attachment through that rockstar feeling.


  • Old model to be competitively different: either a better product, a better price, or a better service.
  • When a customer can’t differentiate between two products based on performance or quality, they look to a company’s service and if they can’t differentiate on this, they look to the last point of differentiation: price.  You don’t want to be competing on price as it’s a losing battle. Undercutting on price may work for a while until you get usurped, e.g. Amazon usurped Walmart.
  • Instead aim to become Uncopyable not just better, as better can always be bettered by someone else.
  • Use Uncopyable tools and approach to create a superior exclusive customer attachment to your business – an experience and relationship so special and valuable it can’t be found anywhere else.


  • The product or service you sell is tangible and therefore easily copyable. The combination of your branding, storytelling, and customer experience are intangible and therefore much easier to make uncopyable.
  • You not only want to be different from competitors, you also want to create an attachment with your customers.
  • Build your own box and create attachment through:
    • Uncopyable Innovation
    • Uncopyable Marketing
    • Uncopyable Branding
    • Uncopyable Experience


  • Competition doesn’t breed innovation. Competition breeds conformity. If it can be copied, it will be copied.
  • Don’t compete, use Stealing Genius to innovate (to offer something unique and valuable) and become uncopyable.
  • Study aliens – study organisations and people outside of your field, that are alien to you, to give you a fresh perspective. And steal their ideas – steal their genius and apply it to your organisation.
  • This is similar to the concept of recombinant innovation.
  • You need to develop an ongoing practice of observation and curiosity, stepping outside of what is popular.
  • Of course, keep an eye on your competition to ensure you offer the minimum standards expected by your customer base in your field– the benchmark– e.g. all hotel guests will expect to have coffee/tea making facilities in their room whichever hotel they stay at.
  • However, you never get new ideas from your competition – you can only take their improvements and perhaps make them a little better.
  • Look at what everyone else is doing and don’t do it. Ask“…What’s the thing that’s not in the world that should be…?” (Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of Hamilton)
  • EXAMPLE McDonalds Stole Genius– McDonalds created their first fast food drive-through in 1975 by observing bank drive-throughs, as a way to attract business from soldiers who were forbidden to leave their cars whilst wearing army fatigues. Nowadays 50-70% of all sales are from drive-through customers.
  • Example Southwest Airlines Stole Genius – the airline used the efficiency employed by NASCAR pit crews servicing racing cars and applied it to airplane cleaning and preparation times. This led to an increase in average daily flights to 10.5 compared to the industry average of 5 and thus an increase in revenue (as airlines make money from flights not downtime).
  • When studying alien organisations, ask yourself:
    • What is this alien organisation doing to impact a customer’s experience?
    • What encourages people to spend money with them?
    • What is different about this business?
    • How do they communicate with customers?
    • How do customers experience the organisation?
  • For innovative ideas, don’t necessarily rely on asking your customers– nobody asked for a cell phone let alone a smart phone, no-one asked for the internet. Henry Ford:“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”.
  • To see through a different filter and generate new insights, ask yourself – “What would Disney do?”, “What would Apple do?”.
  • Develop a habit of active awareness, of mindful observation – wherever you are, always have an enquiring mind looking for ideas.
  • You need to keep being Uncopyable – it’s not a fixed target but a moving one – what is uncopyable now will not be forever.
  • EXERCISE Unique Ideas: on the left-hand side (LHS) of a sheet of paper write all the reasons why someone should do business with you. On the right, write why they should do business with your competition. Cross out reasons that are the same on both sides …those left on the LHS are now those that are unique to you – the unique ideas you should now focus on.

UNCOPYABLE MARKETING: How to attract your moose

  • Recognise the importance of marketing – it is not an afterthought; it is not something you do after you have produced your product or service – it is paramount. You are not in the business of making golf clubs. You are in the business of marketing and selling golf clubs. You are selling the experience of using your golf clubs – if you are unable to sell them, you’ll end up with a big pile of steel. The golf club is incidental – it is the end deliverable of what you are selling.
  • Marketing is about awareness. It seeks to attract people to your business, to generate interest. It involves understanding your potential customers, promoting your business to them and building a relationship.
  • Uncopyable Marketing Approach – 1. MARKET > 2. MESSAGE > 3. MEDIA > 4. MOMENT
    • 1. MARKET: Who is Your Market?
  • Demographic: Who are they? Where are they located? Who is your ideal customer? What is their profile? Create an avatar.
  • Psychographic: What are their pain points (that you can remove)? What challenges do they face everyday? What are their aspirations? What solutions have they tried that haven’t worked?
    • 2. MESSAGE: What message can you create to get their attention?
  • Join the conversation that is going on in their head e.g. if your business is related to weight loss, the conversation isn’t about weight loss, it’s about how that will make them feel – turn heads, feel confident etc.
  • Always enter the conversation that is already taking place in the customers mind and align with it. People are thinking about their own interest, their loved ones, and how to advance – how can you embed yourself within their sphere?
  • The better you understand what your market is thinking, the easier it is to develop a relationship.
    • 3. MEDIA: What media can you use to deliver your message to your market?
  • It is backwards to choose the medium first and then hope your market is there.
  • You don’t need to use all media channels (e.g. trade ad, social media, mailing), just the ones your target market is already on, otherwise it’s a waste of time. E.g. if your market reads a certain magazine, place advert or get an article published.
  • Think “hunt moose” – your strategy is to hunt moose (your target market) – you aren’t interested in the other animals in the forest – the bears, the birds, the wild cats. Tailor your hunt for moose only – investigate what they eat (what can you use to bait them – your message), what paths do they follow through the forest, what will get your moose’s attention. Your message should be like a dog (or moose in this case) whistle – only dogs (moose) can hear it. That’s the perfect message – you aren’t trying to attract all of the animals in the forest – only those that will be interested.
  • You want to use your media to uncover your leads among prospects – the ones who are interested in what you have to say and want to stay in touch. A prospect fits the profile of your target market, to become a lead they must show some level of interest.
    • 4. MOMENT: Will your market (moose) think of you when they are ready to buy?
  • Does your target market think of you first when they need a solution? Although they may not need your solution at the moment they receive your message, when they do, will they think of you first? Or even at all?
  • Your aim is to be the only source your prospects think about.
  • What triggers can you create to help them remember you WHEN they are ready to buy (e.g. Steve Miller gives orange moose whistle as gifts, as memory triggers for his business).
  • Next-step marketing – use this to get your moose to remember you and take that next step along the customer pathway. The essential idea is that there is always a next step – that your customers engage with your business through a series of steps, your focus is to get them to that next step. E.g. you send a mailing to prospects…what is the next step? It isn’t (yet) to buy your product – it is to get them to open the mailing in the first place! Always think of the tools at your disposal to get them to take that very next action.

UNCOPYABLE BRANDING: Create your own box

  • Branding is your identity – who are you and how do people recognise you? It’s about your promise to the marketplace – why do you exist, what is your offering?
  • Branding makes you memorable to your moose. It resonates with your moose, establishes your credibility, and differentiates you from the competition.
  • You are not trying to think outside the box – you are trying to create your own box. 
  • EXAMPLE Motorcycle: think of a motorcycle – what comes to mind? Your brain scans for associations with this word – for some it may be danger, for others it could be noise, freedom, Honda, Suzuki – all of these associations are in the same box called “motorcycle”. So how can you compete? Harley Davidson is a great example of a business that has created its own box. They do not sell motorcycles, they sell fantasy and community. Their box is filled with black leather jackets, belonging, freedom, rebellion, adventure …
  • Build your own box and fill it with things that resonate with your moose (your target market), things that keep you out of that generic big box.
  • Your brand could be the founder who has a unique captivating personality – that’s uncopyable.
  • Branding tools for building your own unique box:
    • Claim a WORD or PHRASE – e.g. Disney owns the phrase “Happiest Place on Earth” – not happy, nor happier, but happiest. How can you reinforce and symbolise your chosen word or phrase to get it into the minds of customers so they link that word with your business?
    • Claim a COLOUR  e.g. Coca Cola owns red. Uncopyable author Steve Miller owns the colour orange – in public he always wears orange, his glasses are orange, his gifts are orange, he uses orange envelopes – when you think of orange you think Uncopyable – it’s a trigger.
    • Create TRIGGERS – Steve Miller uses a Moose Whistle (an orange dog whistle relabelled) to remind prospects and leads of the need to hunt moose (go for their target market)– it triggers memories of his message and therefore of him.
    • Create Your Own LANGUAGE – Starbucks has created its own coffee language – the triple venti skinny, half-caf, the black eye – only those words will be associated with your company.
    • What is your STORY? – Storytelling is an extremely powerful branding tool – people connect with stories and they provide an image of what your company stands for, humanising your company. Stories help build trust in your business, and importantly, people tell stories to others. Stories are unique – uncopyable. What kinds of stories can you tell to connect with your moose? e.g. how and why your company started, a grievance story (every idea starts with a problem), a mission story – your mission to solve a social problem through your business.

UNCOPYABLE EXPERIENCE: Create that rockstar feeling

  • The aim is to create attachment – personal and emotional, the perception of high value, and a fear of losing that attachment.
  • Attachment generates loyalty, repeat business and referrals to others.
  • Create an amazing experience that wants to be REPEATED, REMEMBERED, SHARED.
  • Create a club – you want people to feel like they want to become part of your exclusive club – to feel like rock stars – special, elevated – the cool kids. People want a sense of belonging, a sense of exclusivity and to feel valued.
    • A club that delivers this means they won’t want to leave – if they do they will lose that unique high value experience.
    • EXAMPLE – Airline frequent prisoner (sorry flyer) programmes are examples of successful clubs – you can’t leave otherwise you lose your collected airmiles and will no longer be cool.
    • EXAMPLE – if you are a MAC person you are in a club – you are part of the cool gang who use aesthetically designed Apple products rather than PCs.
  • How can you make your customers feel special, like rock stars?
    • Give your top customers something no one else has, that is hard to get – e.g. information for free that others have to buy, or the first to get this information so they gain an advantage.
    • You could set levels that reward the best customers and provide an incentive for others to work towards e.g. a frequent flyer program that has bronze, silver, gold levels.
    • Become the master networker of your field – the person your customers come to make contact with others – a powerful resource that is uncopyable.
    • Do something more than just delivering your service or product.
    • Example: Southwest Airlines creates wow experiences onboard that cannot be copied, that make their customers feel like rock stars – and it doesn’t have to cost a thing (read the book page 88 to find out more).
    • Example: The Muse Hotel in Manhattan makes guests feel valuable through creating a wow moment, an unexpected experience, through a small but significant action, through their attention to detail. “Our thinking caps are always on as we imagine ways to keep things fresh and welcoming for you” is their brand promise. This was brought to life when a housekeeper, on noticing an empty tube of toothpaste that had been discarded, went out and replaced it, doing a service for Steve Miller as a guest without even asking, as if they had read his mind. This is an example of an experience to be shared, a story that will be told to others who will want to experience what this hotel has to offer. This is free marketing – all through a small tube of toothpaste worth 96 cents.
    • The key is to make people feel valued and valuable – you are not looking for them to recognise your excellence – you are instead focusing on them and recognising their value and excellence. Nobody forgets that feeling. And it’s an experience – a story that will be shared with many others.
    • Create Shock-and Awe Packages – wow your market. Go above and beyond – provide a wonderful package to new customers to enhance your relationship and to separate you from the competition.
    • Example: Steve Miller after signing his publishing deal received a package from the publisher containing a handwritten welcome note, three books relevant to becoming a successful author, an infographic poster on book publishing, popcorn and CDS from other published authors.
    • Example: Steve Miller used shock and awe packages to instil trust in the quality and value of his offering and generate new speaking gigs, sending the following to good prospects – copies of testimonial letters, videos of him speaking, an unusual gift e.g. pair of orange sunglasses, an orange moose whistle (memorable triggers), copies of articles he’d written, copies of his books. He sent them to confirm he was the right person for the job, and it worked.
  • Creating the experience that leads to personal attachment to your company is the key ingredient of the Uncopyable approach.


  • Disney World – they don’t sell amusement parks – they sell unique uncopyable experiences.
  • Hamilton theatre show – creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, used non-traditional means to engage with fans leading to its soaring popularity e.g. $10 daily ticket lottery, impromptu short performances, school studies of the show.
  • Tiger Woods – he became unbeatable by becoming an athlete – being in peak physical condition had not been a standard part of the golf world previously.
  • High Point University – provides students with a unique and unforgettable learning experience e.g. on starting students undertake a Life Skills course, they learn through  simulations of real-world experiences e.g. a replica of a financial trading floor, they experience weekly gourmet meals where they learn social and dining etiquette. The university has created a club that students absolutely want to be a part of – and don’t want to leave.
  • Harley Davidson – do not sell motorcycles – they sell the ability for a 43-year old accountant “to dress in black leather, ride through small towns, and have people be afraid for them”. It sells fantasy and community; with such a unique brand it is difficult for other companies to copy them.

Learn about referral marketing and more great examples of Uncopyable businesses to steal genius from – buy the book here!

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