How interesting would the Jedi be without the “Dark Side” of the Force? Would Batman be as endearing without the Joker?
Would Superman seem as super if he didn’t have a man like Lex Luthor to challenge him? It’s illustrated all over sci-fi and comic book cultures, but in business as well, it’s clear that with a great rivalry comes a great amount of intrigue. As marketers, in particular, our rival companies not only present an opposing standard for us to be graded against, but also an opportunity for us to take on new leads by taking them away from our competition. Fortunately, like a bite from a radioactive spider, data can give us a great deal of power to responsibly run effective takeaway campaigns, and here’s how.
Keep Your Customers Close, but Keep Your Competitors Closer: Of course, we need a thorough knowledge of our own customers’ pain points, but to run effective takeaway campaigns, we also need to know the pain points for our competitor’s customers as well. If for example, you know that a certain installed technology integrates better with your company’s product than with your competitor’s product, you can target your competitor’s customers with that specific installed technology and make a solid, data-driven case for switching over.
Truth, Justice, and the Data-Driven Way: When facing worthy adversaries – usually other marketers on the other side of the branded line – we can’t slip up and make inaccurate claims or unsupported statements. As marketers know marketers; so of course, we know when to call shenanigans on situations when marketing spin is substituted for the truth. This, however, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When our rivals keep us honest, accurate, and value-oriented, we actually all win in delivering better offerings to our customers. One of the best examples of an honest, healthy rivalry paying off for both rival companies in the B2B marketing space is the marketing automation platform duel between Eloqua and Marketo. The key is that these two companies don’t shy away from admitting that the other exists. In fact, smart takeaway campaigns actually use the existence of a competitor as validation for the demand of a product or service within a given market. From there, data on effectiveness or customer performance can speak volumes for why a target audience should chose your takeaway option.
Smash Puny Market Perceptions: When inaccurate industry assumptions or outdated market perceptions get in the way of customers gaining the most value for their money, our marketing instincts tell us it’s time to suit up and smash the detrimental perspectives. Whether our own company has pushed these points of view in the past, or if our rival company has ridden the misinformation wave, our savvy marketing sense spurs us to empirically shoot down empty assumptions with hard data. Even if the takedown effort makes a rival company look better, the objective of this kind of competitive takeaway, however, isn’t in making a better case than the competition, but instead, making the case first. In a study of an online discussion forum, the first commenters had a distinct statistical advantage for receiving positive sentiments from the community. Naturally, this pattern makes sense, but applied to competitive takeaway campaigns, the significance is that even in a highly commoditized market where all providers are more or less equal, you can outdo your rivals by being the first to deliver value.