Feb 20, 2013

opposable marketing

We were all taught manners in our commercial relationships; we should not speak badly about competition in front of our clients, but we should differentiate; we should not ransack for competition inside weaknesses, but we should monitor them and stay informed.

Competitive intelligence. Everybody does it, but only few talk about it.

Here's something nobody talks about: how to market substitute products. So I'll call it Opposable Marketing.

You go to a marketplace and propose a new idea. It's not the case of service innovation, nor of ground breaking technologies; what I have in mind is the simple case of introducing a substitute product or service, giving your market a new choice on solving a problem they were previously solving in a more expensive or laborious way.

Everyone mentions substitutes mainly as part of Porter's five forces; the substitute products seem to be something that we all should watch out for, anticipate or foresee, prepare for and address when they dare to show up. What I'm wondering about is how one should shape up the marketing content while walking the fine line of ethical behavior vs. the competition.

While preparing to define what is the value of your service in the eyes of the client, the marketer has to thoroughly research the habits of his niche. He has to learn exactly how the solution the market is currently using works (be it internal or outsourced), in order to build content to anticipate or treat objections.

What your company is trying to achieve is to determine a segment of potential clients to change habits and switch to using your service, in the detriment of already-established providers.

Your content will aggressively advise against the current way the customer works to solve his problem, because you must differentiate by pointing out the limitations, constraints, weaknesses of using the alternative [clearly, without mentioning any competitor name in your content]. 

It doesn't sound very nice, yes. But this is the very definition of substitute: using this thing INSTEAD of the other thing; performing the same job as another; taking someone's place.

So here are my questions and I welcome any opinion and comment on the subject:
  • What are the guidelines of writing content to market Substitute products?
  • How to respond when facing retaliation from your competitors?

1 comment:

  1. When you mention competition in your marketing content, do you refer to a specific competitor or to all the specific market?