Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Thank You Note to My Competitors (which I hope they never read)

Six Reasons to be Thankful to Your Competitors


Are you running over your 
competitors, or are they running
over you?
For success in B-to-B marketing and lead generation not only are your actions important, but what your competitors do.... or don't do.... or haven't a clue to do, make a big difference. That's why we should extend a tongue-in-cheek 'thank you' to some of our competitors. They can often make our job easier, without even knowing they are being so accommodating. We can divert 'their' quality business leads to ourselves with impunity.

However, to put this into perspective, we should never be complacent about our competition, for therein lies the road to defeat and ruin. A short list of reasons to be thankful, below, really serve as a list of dangers we all need to be aware of, for we are all capable of harming ourselves in this way.

Reasons to be Thankful to our Competition:

1. Poor Focus on Web-page Layout and Clutter:

Producing web-pages which surround and bury the core value content, the really important information a visitor is looking for, is a common practice and self-defeating. The "money content" is subdued, stifled, and trapped in a suffocating waffle of links, images, fluff and other content... the core content is diluted both for the reader and (happy days for us) search engines bots when they crawl their pages, resulting in lower organic search engine rankings.

2. Poor Web-Page Content:
Writing good concise, precise web-page content which targets a key product or service niche (or sub-niche, or sub-sub-niche) is an art and a science. We should thank competitors who launch web-pages with lousy content, especially if they are proud of the result. They just made our job a lot easier to whip them in search engine rankings. I could write a book about lousy web content on competitor webpages. In fact, many intelligent people have written books on how to improve web-page content for SEO. We should be thankful so many people appear not to have read them!

3. Poor Website Structure and Navigation:
A good webmaster is worth a lot, and should be cherished. A good webmaster who understands B-to-B and has a burning desire to rank high in organic search results is worth their weight in gold.... 24 karat investment grade. Having a mediocre or distracted webmaster can  harm a website's overall performance for lead generation. Having a mediocre or distracted webmaster plus poor content and navigation can be a disaster. There are so many things which can go right or go wrong depending upon the organization, resources, support and talent on offer.

4. Competitors behaving badly at Tradeshows and Conferences:
We should be thankful for competitors who suffer from self-defeating habits regarding trade-shows and conferences. Just a few of the event-wins (for us, not for them) are:
a. Not Being There (they skipped or overlooked a key industry event)
b. Being There but Missing in Action (Their booth is empty, delegates nowhere to be seen)
c. Being There, but Indifferent (They are deathly bored at their booth, glazed eyes, negative, non-engaging, don't mingle with attendees, reading, and are wall-flowers)
d. They brought the Wrong Message (They don't tailor their message to the event and market niche, and use a "one size fits all" approach, they brought the wrong people to the event)

5. Outsourcing Paid Search Campaigns:
Hiring an outsider to run Adwords and other paid search and content campaigns is another area for we should be very grateful to the competition. If the search targets are technical and niched, then tasked, informed and focused personnel inside the company will usually be far more nimble, proactive, knowledgeable and cost-effective and efficient than using an outside Ad Agency or consultant. Quality will be higher and wasted clicks and costs reduced by keeping this key marketing lead generation tool in-house. Another big competitive mistake we love is for them to run a one-size-fits-all ad across numerous market niches, with a landing page which is either not focused or requires the visitor make heroic efforts at navigating to a webpage which is relevant to them.
An ideal result for a competitor using Adwords, from our perspective, is for them to waste a lot of money on poorly managed campaigns and then decide it was all a mistake and completely shut the campaigns down... their new-found cost control is then applauded by their finance guys, while we, their competition, enjoy the happy competitive result of stealing their leads, paid-search marketing nirvana for us!

6. Competitors don't exploit Social Media:
If our competitors do not understand nor encourage Social Media marketing, then they aren't blogging, tweeting, posting, "liking" their company, letting others "like" and forward their web-pages, and otherwise promoting their brand, products and services to a huge potential audience. This is a big and inexpensive marketing opportunity for your company to exploit. Since your competition have left a large Social Media vacuum, fill that gap with your offerings. Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Blogging and more are all opportunities to get in front of your prospective clients in a positive way. If you competitor hasn't figured that out, so much the better.

These "thank you" notes to the competition also serve as a warning to our own marketing and lead generation efforts. Objectivity, modesty, vigilance, and humility always serve us well. Overconfidence, pride, arrogance, ignorance, and hubris are marketing dangers to be avoided at all costs. A question we should frequently ask ourselves: "Are WE making our competitor's jobs easier?" If so, immediate remedial action is needed.

There are many other things for which we can be grateful to our competitors. We must make sure they don't have too many reasons to be grateful to us in return.

B-to-B Web Marketing Should Help Sales People Sell

Connect with Erik Holladay on Linkedin.