Let’s begin with this simple question… Who are your competitors?
No matter whether you are a B2B or B2C, your competitors are businesses that provide similar services or products to the same people you also consider potential customers. You might be catering to a select niche of the market, but there will always be some competitors doing the same. Even if you are a brand-new start-up, sooner or later, competitors will emerge out of thin air, consequently bringing you competition!
In short, competitors are a necessary nuisance — you can’t ignore them, nor can you deny their existence. You have to consider them every time you perform a market analysis or develop a new marketing strategy.
That’s why understanding your potential competitors is the first step in product-led growth in the digital marketplace. First, you will have to differentiate between direct and indirect competitors, i.e., companies with similar products (direct) and businesses that compete digitally (indirect).
To identify the direct competition, you need to conduct market research, solicit customer feedback, and check community forums/social media. For the indirect competition, you should perform keyword research, analyse Google’s search result pages, and take a look at the paid data.
After identifying your competitors, you will want to identify gaps that present marketing opportunities you can leverage to outperform them. One way is by talking about them! Yes, you read that correctly. To drive more organic traffic to your website — thereby more leads and sales — you will have to become and be trusted as a thought leader in your space. You can do that by becoming a great teacher first that educates your audience.
In other words, you must write about the topics other businesses are unwilling to venture into. By doing so, you can not only teach the prospects in a transparent manner, which will build trust and also establish yourself as an authority figure in your industry/marketplace.
Many businesses are afraid of writing about the Big 5 Topics such as costs/pricing, problems, comparisons, best-of lists, and reviews. They simply just don’t answer the questions customers are asking!
Rather than writing about such pressing issues, they take refuge in the useless fluff in the name of content marketing. While this may bring some increase in web traffic initially, it isn’t really serving your website visitors honourably as it isn’t answering their genuine questions, so it doesn’t do anything really for building trust and authority with your prospects.
This “ostrich marketing” — burying your head in the sand instead of addressing the real issues — is detrimental to your brand and reputation. In his groundbreaking book which outlines a unique approach to content and inbound marketing titled, They Ask, You Answer, Marcus Sheridan writes extensively about all the bad practices companies adopt by default (just because that is the way it has always been done), the ways to avoid them and how doing things differently can deliver extraordinary results!
We encourage everyone to follow the inbound methodology and strive to provide honest and straightforward answers to the questions (including the most uncomfortable ones) potential clients ask — without any meaningless rubbish that just seeks to divert from the honest answer to the question. Writing about your competitors is one of these uncomfortable topics, especially one that attracts the most resistance.
“Why the heck would I want to tell my prospects about my competitors and draw their attention to them? That sounds bonkers!?” Many clients ask, perplexed. Here, we’ll answer your queries on how you can drive revenue by writing about your competitors — and how you can do that effectively by following the principles of They Ask, You Answer.
Without further ado, let’s address the elephant in the room — the big WHY?
Perhaps your biggest fear is that if you tell your website visitors that other companies exist — and they might be doing a better job than you are — aren’t the prospects going to choose them over you every time? Suppose the competitor gets upset about what you have said about them. Will they respond by leaving you a negative review? Or worse, what if they threaten to sue you?
Though writing about your competitors might seem counterproductive initially, you’ll see how addressing an issue that no one else in your industry wants can actually give you a competitive advantage. Do you really think your prospects aren’t doing their own research already…? In today’s online world, customers are more informed than ever before: They seek reviews, opinions, and honest answers before making a decision. In fact, it is proven that over 70% of the buying decision has been made before you even have the chance to speak to your prospect! Let that sink in for a minute, and let me know if you still think answering their questions online (even the difficult and bitter ones) is still a bad idea?
So here’s why you should write about your competitors.
Honesty is a rare virtue in today’s competitive world of digital marketing. In a blink of an eye, you can easily be led into believing what’s not factual, thanks to paid advertising, influencer marketing, and newsjacking — being honest matters significantly in a world inundated with overflowing information and misinformation.
When your visitors see you are bold enough to write honestly (and that’s super important) about your competitors, the side effect is that your audience sees it as an act of complete transparency. It shows that you want the best for your prospects besides establishing trust initially, even if it means your product/service/company may not be the right fit for them. In other words, you are trying to educate them to decide on the best solution for their problem rather than aiming for a hard sell no matter what.
In today’s age of rigorous competition, so few companies care about educating their prospects, so they understand the options they have to choose from and what is the best fit for them. Most articles and blogs on company websites (even still today) appear to have the sole intention of pitching their products or services with little to no understanding of perception from the prospects’ shoes.
Just stay away from being “salesy” in your content marketing and genuinely teach your website visitors about the possible ways of addressing their pain points. They will see that as genuine integrity and consume more information from your website, thereby spending more time studying all the educational and helpful content you are providing — and it won’t be long before you become an industry expert.
“How is that even possible?” you might ask.
By writing articles about what potential customers have been searching for, you will become more relevant. You will use target keywords that help you rank in search engines — and if you rank higher, chances are more visitors will land on your website.
They will learn about your company and services, and you’ll be on their radar as long as they haven’t made the final purchase. Depending on where they are in the buyer’s journey, it’s very likely that they will keep your company in mind before making a buying decision.
Say your prospects become aware of your products or services. Now, if you educate them with genuine answers to their questions that other businesses are reluctant to respond to, you are earning a colossal opportunity to control the conversation.
Your fair and unbiased words will leave a lasting impression on them and provided they are a good fit for you, they are likely to turn into potential buyers. Thus, writing openly and honestly about your competitors gives you a competitive advantage — and helps turn your leads into trusting, satisfied, and loyal customers.
Now that we’ve explained the undeniable importance of writing about your competitors, let’s take a moment to address the most prevalent fear…
“What if my competitor threatens to sue my company and/or me?“
The solution to that is simple, as you always should with your content, focus on being absolutely honest and transparent. Remember that you are writing about facts and figures, not biases and opinions. It will be very difficult for anyone to sue you for simply stating factual information, so don’t get too concerned about the threats of a lawsuit unless, of course, you are writing scathing and partial reviews that will defame or harm your competitors’ reputation.
When in doubt, always back up your argument with facts and statistics. Be objective and data-driven. Suppose you want to be on the safe side. In that case, you can always consult with a legal expert (for example, a corporate lawyer) to see if anything you have written could be considered malicious or defamatory before publishing your content about your competitors.
You know how important it is to write about your competitors factually and impartially — now let’s understand how you can write these blogs. Basically, there are two ways to write competitor-focused content.
Customers these days want to see a list of “Top 10” or “5 Best” company’s products or services early on their buyer’s journey — even if they end up choosing a company that doesn’t rank highest on the list. They want to know the available options and make comparisons.
So you should aim to perform a competitive analysis and come up with a list — of top businesses that you compete with daily. DO NOT include your company in this list because if you do, it will stink! It’s cheesy, salesy and pushy… not something you want to be coming off as if you’re going to genuinely earn your prospects’ trust!
Anyway… why do you need to? The reader is already on your website!
Unlike the best-of articles, this one is for people struggling to choose between a handful of products or services. They have already weighed up their options and are probably struggling to decide which way to go. Thus, your compare/contrast blog post will help them identify their specific needs and understand the pros/cons of the different products/service options available to them and help them decide on the best fit solution for them.
These blogs might not get the most traffic, but it’s a valuable asset for customers who are right before the decision stage on their buyer’s journey.
Like any other business blog post, writing about your competitors also needs a specific structure. It should have a gripping introduction, a coherent middle part, and a proper conclusion. In short, it should be your best-written work.
Besides that, compelling titles or headings, subheadings as guideposts, shorter paragraphs, and CTAs to drive traffic are other elements you should consider when writing competitor-focused content. If you want to learn more about writing blogs, we have prepared a detailed article: How To Write An Effective Blog Post — A Step-By-Step Guide. It will help you with the nitty-gritty of writing compelling blog posts from start to finish.
Another idea to keep in mind is that when you’re writing about company descriptions, make sure to include who they are and how long they have been in business, besides writing about their specialties and expertise. Using external links (to competitors’ websites) for a better SEO reach is equally important.
In addition to those tips, here are some other ideas to keep in mind.
We trust you can now see the enormous value of writing competitor-focused content, but we understand it’s easier said than done. Writing about other businesses, especially your competitors, is challenging. Therefore, proper planning and outlining are obviously necessary to make it as straightforward as possible.
Remember that writing about best-of competitors or compare-contrast blogs is a trusted way of finding your way on the first page of the search engine result. Such writing packs a punch, and you might even find yourself in Google’s featured snippets, the best way to gain more traffic for your business website.
February 02, 2022