Marketing and communications campaigns are often designed to alleviate pain. What exactly do I mean by that? Marketing is often brought into the fold as a potential solution – a way to solve sales, fundraising and brand awareness problems, among others. One of the most common pain points we build campaigns to address is gatekeeping – or minimizing – competitive threats.
While every company and cause is unique, losing sales or donations to competitors is a common frustration. We feel your pain. Here are five tips to help you get started with ‘out marketing’ your competition:
Keep your radar up
Driving to work and hear your competitor mentioned as the sponsor of the business news minute? Did you also see a new billboard for the competition on your way to the office? Make note and be sure the marketing team has these occurrences on their radar. Keeping an eye on the competition is key to building a marketing program that is both strategic and realistic. It’s equally important to know where your competitors are not marketing themselves – be it on LinkedIn, through a Google AdWords campaign or at key industry trade shows.
While some companies will opt to market through the same channels as their competitors, others will opt to go where their competitors are not marketing their products and/or services. There isn’t a universal answer as to which is best – it’s a matter of what’s right for the company, cause and its overall objectives.
Step outside of the comfort zone
This doesn’t have to be doing something completely absurd or outlandish to get on people’s radars. It can be as simple as adopting a new marketing channel or becoming more self-promotional. Everyone’s comfort zones are different – as are the risk tolerance levels of every company or cause. While you never want to execute a marketing initiative that is blatantly off-brand or could cause potential brand confusion amongst target audiences, there is a lot to be said for stepping out of the box. Which leads us to our next tip…
Look at your product, service or mission through a new lens. Oftentimes, one is so close to their own organization that it can be challenge to be objective. Just because you’ve known your product for 15-years and have mastered every single thing there is to know about it, doesn’t mean your clients and prospects have the same knowledge base to draw upon. Inversely, you may have clients and prospects who are very well-informed about your products and services, so…how can you give them new appeal?
Whether your embrace a strategy that focuses on unexpected uses or unanticipated outcomes or choose to deploy a campaign that is timed for when people would least expect, focus on delivering the unexpected in a way that is compelling, engaging and, of course, on-brand.
If we’ve said it once we’ve said it a million times – we live in a real-time media world. What worked last year – and, sometimes, even last month – may not necessarily deliver the same levels of success today. Companies with successful marketing programs embrace a custom blend of strategy and flexibility to thrive in this fast-paced environment. For example, let’s say that the morning news breaks a story about a new study that reveals mobile security breaches are on the rise. You, a savvy marketer and business person, know that your CIO is the perfect person to comment on this topic. While your marketing calendar for the day was originally intended to focus on prep for an upcoming tradeshow, you realize this is an opportunity worth jumping on. By seizing a timely opportunity, you position your brand as a trusted source – and resource –for media. You also score covetable air-time for your brand.
Who wouldn’t love a recurring weekly news column? And to outshine the market leader and secure a sizeable piece of their market share? Now, let’s be realistic. Do you have the bandwidth – and the budget – to make this happen?
While creative, hard-working solutions can often help to shore up the gaps caused by budgetary and bandwidth limitations, it’s important to set marketing goals that are realistic for the resources you can allocate to achieving them. Whether you pick one market or medium to focus on, know what message and method will best resonate with your target audiences and help differentiate your company or cause from the competition.
‘Out marketing’ the competition is an important objective for many companies and causes alike. While it is often a gradual process, clarity, consistency and credibility are key to making this business and marketing goal a reality.