My advice, like that of most business experts, is to resist the temptation. Even if your competition offers poor service, high prices and a bad product, to say so in print makes you look like a bully on the playground.
Instead, find positive ways to make the same point, without calling out your competitors directly. Here are some ideas.
Think about how your company measures up industry-wide. If you are in the business of selling and installing windows, find statistics that show what the average cost of windows and installation is in your region, state or even nationwide. If your costs are lower than the average, you can promote that fact in your direct mailings and catch the attention of potential customers. A lot of financial institutions use the interest rates they offer on investments as a point of differentiation.
We all know that our customers and potential customers spend a lot of time comparison-shopping. If low price is one of your company’s key strengths, include the cost of products or services prominently in your direct marketing materials.
How many times have we heard neighbors or friends tell of the problems they’ve had with a business or service? So when they find a company that is professional and good to work with, they can easily tick off the differences between the two. Build a direct mail campaign around the points they make about the upsides of doing business with your company. Remember that almost 90 percent of consumers began doing business with a competitor because of a bad customer experience.
What sets your company apart from its competition? For many customers, quality is a bigger part of the equation than cost. If, for example, you run a pet food company that specializes in foods made from organic products, organic is your product’s value characteristic. You don’t have to bash lower-cost foods packed with cheap filler ingredients directly; you simply point out the superiority of your product by citing benefits to the health of people’s pets and to the environment.
When your company does something that your competition doesn’t, market the heck out of it. For example, a garden center in our area will create custom flower pots for customers. I’m sure its competitors will do the same, but they aren’t promoting this service in their advertising and marketing. Another business in our area, a drugstore, offers home delivery. That is not typical, and given the area’s homebound, elderly population, it is quite a selling point and one that the store’s competition can’t match.
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