Ignore your competition at your own risk. Both existing players and new entrants strive to poach your customers. Don’t be caught off-guard. Study your competition – their products, marketing strategy, communication, customer reviews. Did you know that competitive marketing helps enhance customer satisfaction? Let me explain.
Before we get to the how, let us understand:
What is Competitive Marketing?
Competitive marketing is watching your competition closely to improve your strategies for a higher market share.
- How and where do your competitors advertise?
- What is their style of communication? Ad copy, website copy, landing pages, images, videos.
- The value proposition promoted by your competition. Are they using a cost leadership strategy or differentiation strategy?
- What are customers saying about your competition? Reviews, complaints, testimonials.
- Get access to their presentations, case studies and brochures. Look at the messaging.
There are several ways you can find out the “who, what, where and how” of your competitors marketing strategy. This is the best source of information for your firm – using your competitor’s insights and research to improve your sales and marketing.
Brianne Kimmel from Zendesk says “Competitive marketing may sound controversial, but it’s important to love your competition. Competition is a great sign in a startup’s early days because it validates the market and, as the company grows, challengers keep it from getting too comfortable.”
Example of how big brands use competitive marketing for consumer attention?
You may remember competitive marketing and advertising used by some big brands – Coca-Cola vs Pepsi for example.
Pepsi had once installed a billboard advertisement mocking Coca-Cola’s caption “Open Happiness”. Pepsi used the tagline “Happiness is a choice” with the hashtag #JustSoYouKnow.
In another incident, during Halloween 2013, Pepsi posted an ad with a Pepsi can wearing a Coca-Cola cape with the message “We wish you a very scary Halloween”.
The Coca-Cola response was a clever one. The same image was used with another tagline – “Everybody wants to be a hero”.
The tagline changed the perception from Coco-Cola being portrayed as a Halloween monster to a hero protecting its rival Pepsi.
Such exchanges between big challenger brands are always fun for the consumer.
Back to our agenda.
How can competitive research and marketing improve customer satisfaction?
I could think of three key influences of competitive marketing on consumer satisfaction:
- Consumer perception
- Value proposition
- Guiding the consumer
Clever marketing shapes consumer perception about the product and the brand.
Taking a cue from your competitors, like in the Coco-Cola vs Pepsi Halloween example, you can create a desired perception for your brand.
Let’s say all your competitive research points you to one conclusion: on-time delivery is the single largest consideration for your customers.
Your competitors may be promoting their on-time delivery USP. But you could take your brand perception a notch higher by cleverly mixing good copy with hard facts.
“We have a 98.3% on-time delivery for our 250+ customers across 17 countries.”
OR “we delivered 2.3 million parts on time to our 250+ customers across 17 countries.”
Nothing works better than hard, verified facts. This is instant trust for your prospective customers.
You were able to establish what matters most to your customer – new and existing.
This marketing copy helps your get more eyeballs and inquiries from new customers. However, when you share this with your existing customers using social networks, display ads, review presentations and emails, this information stays with them.
Remember, people need to be told what you want them to remember.
A customer may not have noticed your significantly good on-time delivery track record. Customers notice when there is a problem.
So, you need to tell them how good you have been to create a favorable perception. When a competitor approaches them with a great on-time delivery promise, the customer knows a 98.3% benchmark may be hard to better.
Use competitive marketing insights to tell your customers how good you are.
Over communication is a common sin in marketing and sales presentations.
High quality, best-in-class, great customer service, cost effectiveness, responsiveness, low defects etc.
A lot and many more of these are used simultaneously. However it is best when you can identify what’s most important to your customer? And, why your firm is the best fit for the requirement?
Customer satisfaction and retention is the result of meeting this most important need of your customers.
Competitive marketing and research lets you identify your competitive strength. Is it the best quality? Or is it speed of service or cost?
To improve customer satisfaction, you need to stay on course with this strength. Better still, you need to keep improving before some other competitor catches up.
Marketing research guides you to align your strengths with your customer needs. Make a promise that matters to the customer. Then, deliver on the promise. Keep improving and improve customer satisfaction and retention.
Guide the Consumer
Customers often do not know what they should be looking for. When buying a new smartphone for instance, what do you look for? Some stop at comparing the camera resolution, internal storage and a couple of other specifications.
However, is there something else you want them to consider? How about privacy? Privacy was the key messaging in iPhone’s recent ad campaign.
This strategy shifts the goal post. Your competitors are caught unaware as you change the game.
As you establish the new priority customers should seek, you come out on top – the best solution. Number one spot influences both customer perception and satisfaction.
Use this strategy to widen the gap between you and your closest rivals.
Competitive marketing helps you eliminate guess work. Guess estimates can burn through your marketing budget. And we now see an extremely competitive landscape. You cannot stay isolated.
You will have competitors bidding on your brand keywords for getting more ad clicks and traffic. While you may choose to not look outwards, your competitors will use all means to watch your strategy moves.
So you too need to play offense for stealing market share and retaining customers.
Use competitive marketing strategies for:
- Influencing customer perception
- Establishing and communicating your value proposition
- Guiding your consumers to make favorable buying comparisons and decisions
One note of caution – do not get too distracted by every move your competitor makes. That could be overwhelming for your team and you may end up working on the wrong moves. Learn to filter out the garbage.