#24: The Art of the Competitive Campaign
There is an elegance to healthy competition.
Inevitably, there will always be those co-workers in your competitive channel on Slack who can’t help roasting others in the market. They need to tear down every feature another company ships and criticize every email that’s sent.
Personally, I’ve never felt threatened by competition. A healthy competitive ecosystem pushes you to become better, stronger and more innovative. At the end of the day, I’m grateful to my competitors.
That said, I still want to win the market. There is a fine line between communicating differentiation and putting down your competitors. As a product marketer, we’re often negotiating this grey zone with our executive stakeholders.
This is never more true than when building competitive campaigns.
To Compete or Not To Compete?
Competitive campaigns are incredibly polarizing. Some feel they are a strategic pillar of a competitive program, while others think they’re tacky. I’ve worked at companies that avoid them at all costs, but also some that have pushed me to the edge.
Like most things, it all comes down to execution.
In order to design a compelling and high integrity campaign, it’s important to align at the start on the driving force behind it.
Here are a few triggers that may lead to a competitive campaign:
Your win-loss rates against a competitor have shifted significantly
The competitor changes their pricing model
A player in the space ships new functionality that affects your differentiation
A merger or acquisition has taken place
Another player in the space has taken a more aggressive competitive approach against you
Current events have given you an edge over your competitor
An increase in negative customer reviews on your competitor’s review sites
Based on the trigger, you may have different objectives for your campaign. This is why it’s important to align on the “why”.
For example, if the trigger is a pricing change, you may want to launch a competitive campaign to migrate customers away from your competitor. You’ll most likely set a target of customer acquisition.
But, imagine if the trigger was a current event instead. Your competitor has found themself on the wrong side of this, and you have an opportunity to build brand awareness for your own company. In this case, the target for your campaign may be more about positive sentiment or media coverage rather than direct acquisition.
The Do’s and Dont’s
Before you build your competitive campaign, make sure you identify for whom your solution really is the better choice. The more specific you can be, the more compelling the narrative.
Here are a few helpful guidelines to keep in mind.
Be clear about why you’re different, not just better
Include a table that easily highlights your differences
Consider special offers for existing customers who want to migrate
Provide social proof of customers who use your solution instead of the competitors (and why)
Check with a lawyer to make sure your claims are accurate and legally compliant
Resort to name calling or dirty tactics
Omit details that may come to light later (ie. try to hide a gap in your solution)
Stretch the truth
Pick a fight you’re not ready for (make sure you can back up your argument)
I’d love to know - what are some examples of great competitive campaigns you’ve seen recently? Hit reply and send me your faves!