By zack

At Funeral Innovations, we’ve always had a friendly relationship with Ryan Thogmartin, founder of Connecting Directors. We’ve demoed our products to him, and he’s praised our web based solutions’ simplicity and effectiveness. We’ve even spent money advertising on his website.

So imagine my surprise when I received an email from his mailing list on Friday, promoting his Facebook solutions, with his headline copied directly from our Facebook Marketing Page!

Here’s the headline used on our Funeral Innovations Facebook marketing page, which I wrote over a week ago.

There are 800 million people on Facebook. Are you getting their business?

Now look what Ryan wrote in his email on Friday, a full week after we published our page!

There are 0ver 800 million People on Facebook. Shouldn’t you be getting their business?

Wow, pretty similar, right? He changed a few words, but took the rest verbatim. At first I chuckled at his lack of creativity. But as I continued to read his email, it was apparent that he stole much more than a simple headline.

For our Facebook Fan-Gating technique, I wrote the following:

Did you know that sending new visitors to your Facebook Page’s wall is a lost opportunity? If they don’t fan your page the first time they see it, they’ll probably never return.

Social Site’s “Fan-Gating” shows non-fans a custom splash page to convince new visitors to become a fan, thus gaining you long-term marketing exposure to them. We’ll help you increase your fan conversions by up to 300%!

Now let’s see what Ryan wrote:

The main goal of your Facebook Page is to get visitors to click the “Like” button! Sending a first time visitor to your Facebook Page’s wall is a major no no and a huge lost opportunity.

With Disrupt MG’s custom designed landing pages a first time visitor (has never “liked” your page) will be directed to a custom landing page that guides them to click the “like” button, giving you marketing exposure to them. Our custom landing pages will help increase your “Like” conversions by up to 300%.

At least he had the sense here to change a few more words. But still: “lost opportunity”, “marketing exposure to them”,  “increase conversions up to 300%”. He even ripped off our stats!

It gets worse. Not only did he copy the marketing material I wrote myself, but he also directly copied our actual product!

Take a look at the beautiful custom Fan-Gate we created for Fred Hunter’s Memorial Services Facebook Page over a month ago:


Over a week ago Ryan became a fan of the Fred Hunter’s Facebook Page. He must have realized how great our Facebook Pages looked because lo and behold, he showed off his new design, which looks almost exactly like the one we created for Fred Hunter’s (just less polished)!


Can you spot the similarities? They are hard to miss. Same style arrow pointing to the Like button, vibrantly graphical background, logo with the soft glow. Granted, we didn’t invent these techniques, but out of all the ways you can design a Facebook Page, it’s amazing how closely he copied ours.

Here are some more “tells”:

See the nice looking ribbon technique we use around “Become a Fan”?


Looks like Ryan decided he likes our ribbon as well!


We promote 4 key benefits of following Fred Hunter’s Facebook Page as a listing within a semi-transparent white box, including “Community News” as one of the benefits.


Guess who else has a new-found fondness of semi-transparent white boxes, vertical listings of 4 benefits, and the value of “Community News”!


Of course, he even separated the benefits with opaque white lines. I wonder where he came up with such a small detail.

Apparently our Facebook pre-planning widget got his attention as well. Funeral Innovations was the first to release a Facebook-embedded pre-planning widget. In fact, we put it right within our customer’s tabbed Microsites on Facebook. Now, we’ll gladly admit we did not invent the concept of a pre-planning widget. But there a million ways you can construct and word the pre-planning form and questions. Ryan couldn’t figure out how to put the pre-planning widget in a Microsite like ours, but he did manage to steal the wording on our pre-planning widget verbatim!

First look at ours, which we created over a month ago.


Look closely at the wording used in Ryan’s new pre-planning widget, including the section names, the steps shown at the top, and the individual options.


I love competition. I started my career at IBM, spent time living and developing a startup in Silicon Valley, and enjoy nothing more than pushing ourselves and our competitors towards more and more innovative solutions within the funeral industry. Competition is the lifeblood of innovation. But Funeral Innovations would never, ever blatantly copy our competitors’ products or steal their marketing material. That is not competition, that is not innovation, and that is not how we were raised.

So as you choose who you place your firm’s reputation with when working on a social media solution, you must ask yourself:

  • Does your technology partner share your firm’s values and morals?
  • Does your technology partner innovate or do they copy others?
  • Do you want to align your firm with a leader or a follower?

Note: I’ve reached out to Ryan to seek an explanation but he has not responded to my emails.