The quickest way to stumbling and falling for a small business is to set out to be the “next” whatever.  That might range from the next Panera to the next LinkedIn.

In the tough world of afternoon television we see that dangerous tactic being played out in shows which position themselves to be the “next Oprah.”  Katie Couric’s debut of “Katie” yesterday might have fallen into that trap. The reviews aren’t good.

The reality is that those great brands like “Oprah” took years to build.  That happened through continual experimentation.  It wasn’t born one day.  It was through trying and failing, trying again and failing and learning from the experimentation that it developed its uniqueness and became stronger and stronger.

Effective marketing, whether you’re a bakery in West Hartford, Connecticut or Apple Computer in California, has always been about developing that special connection between your business and all your constituencies out there, be they customers/clients, employees, the media, and vendors.  That’s where the focus is, not imitating models.

Kate Sirignano, founder of Image Marketing Consultants, provides complimentary consultations for marketing including advertising, public relations, partnerships, social media, and special events, 203-404-4868.