Uruguayans are a wonderful, cultured, and supremely civilized nationality and there has never been a hint of cannibalism among them until Mr. Suarez decided to eat an Italian’s shoulder in the middle of a World Cup pitch. Apparently his $15 million dollar salary doesn’t allow him to eat as much meat as he prefers so he must have gotten a bit hungry during the match for some of the Italian delicacy spalla di maiale (pork shoulder). Although it is not recommended that you actually go out to dine upon your competition, the essence of business is effectively “dog eat dog” so anything that is ethical, legal, and even remotely fair play is usually acknowledged to be within the realms of modern business. So sharpen your chompers and get ready to chow down!
1. Replicate don’t innovate – Yes, it’s wonderful to reinvent the wheel or create the better mousetrap, but the bottom line is that in this technologically focused age, it can take a million dollars to just wireframe an app that is going to end up having a shelf life of nanoseconds anyway. As long as you’re not violating any copyrights or intellectual property laws, why not take a deep hard look at what your competitor is offering its customers and duplicate it? Especially if you can manage to improve upon it in some way or put your own brand’s unique spin on it, you will likely be rewarded with increased customer approval metrics while not investing your entire profits from the past decade in app development (or any other form of marketing R&D).
2. Make them the butt of jokes – Mac vs. PC is an absolutely legendary marketing campaign and there is no law that states you can’t use humor to compare yourself to other competing brands in your industry sector. By all means stop short of libel, slander, and other actions which will have you facing cease-and-desist legal orders, but why not put a fun twist on the competition between your brands showing how you’re so much better at whatever you’re both doing?
3. Appropriate their customers – Of course while ensuring that you’re not hacking into accounts or using false identities, there really is no reason why you can’t “incentivize” your customers to jump ship. You can run a special grand prize contest or sweepstakes which is limited to customers who can provide a bill of sale from your competitors from a previous purchase, or who can show that they are have been long term social media fans or followers of their brand. If you can provide your competitors’ customers with deep discount vouchers or coupons, or perhaps an invitation to a special VIP only online or brick and mortar event, they will be motivated to abandon their previous loyalties and stick with your brand!
4. Beat them to the punch – Any wise and seasoned online marketer has no choice but to be right up to the minute with the trends which shape their market segment, so when there is a major product introduction or technology advancement which is being rumored about in the trades, why wait until the release date to go mano a mano with your competitors when you can take the jump on them and get in there first? Offering the pre-order on a much in demand upcoming item prior to its release is a fantastic way to be seen as the market leader by your customers. Don’t worry if the specs or pricing is not set, as many savvy marketers allow pre-orders with the understanding that the customer would agree to the actual specs and price prior to shipping.
5. Undercut them – Pricing is always the Holy Grail of shoppers so there is nothing more effective than undercutting your competition’s pricelist. You’ll have to be prepared for a price war if they retaliate, but if your brand has deep enough pockets to win that conflagration you may find that you have run your competitor right out of business!
You can be sure that if you don’t apply these tactics against your competitors, they’ll be using them on you!