The following post was written by Jeanne Hopkins. As Chief Marketing Officer at Lola.com, Jeanne Hopkins leads the company’s marketing organization as well as its customer success organization. She was Executive Vice President and CMO at Ipswitch and held executive marketing roles at HubSpot, Symmetricom (now Microsemi), SmartBear, MarketingSherpa, and Continuum (now ConnectWise). At HubSpot, Jeanne’s leadership helped the company land on the number two spot on the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing companies by generating 50,000 net new leads per month. An accomplished writer, advisor and speaker, Jeanne serves on the Advisory Boards of Coffee Cup Collective and Sales Lead Management Association. She is also Co-Chair of the MassTLC Sales and Marketing Group.
You can spend all day telling prospects how great your product is, but you can be sure they are checking out the competition as well. Competitors will expound on the virtues of their own products, so if you don’t give prospects solid reasons to pick your product, they will buy from someone else. This is the fundamental challenge of marketing – to not only build product awareness but make sales.
Competitive comparison pages can give this process a big boost, especially when the competition is intense, because prospects can feel overwhelmed with conflicting messages.
We use competitive comparison pages at Lola.com, so we know they work. And work well. We think more companies, especially up-and-comers like us, should be using competitive comparison pages to differentiate their products and services, too. Here’s why.
The Importance of Competitive Comparisons
Companies collect competitive intelligence and analyze it to direct and improve product development, sales and marketing, and overall positioning decisions. Simply put, it really helps to know how you stack up against competitors in all key business areas. It’s easier to identify gaps in your own thinking or strategies and easier to identify weak spots where you noticeably stand out compared to them – the competitive advantage we all want and need to grow our companies.
But today’s super-smart and savvy buyers also want to know how you compare to your competitors. Long gone are the days where a salesperson “informed” prospective customers about products and everyone automatically bought into it. Remember when you were told to “sell the sizzle instead of the steak”? In today’s buyer-informed world, selling “sizzle” would simply not fly. B2B buyers spend almost 70% of their time researching a purchase before contacting the company.
Easy-to-understand marketing tools such as infographics that spell out or illustrate competitive features and benefits make it easy for prospects to compare. You’re using your competitive intelligence as you would for business-wide comparison, only zeroing in on your product and service.
Why Create Competitive Comparison Pages
- Competitive analysis can inform and drive all aspects of marketing strategy and execution. A straight-up, apples-to-apples product comparison has unique value because it speaks directly to the bottom line of your prospect’s decision-making – which one should I choose?
- Competitive comparison pages on your website can help boost SEO, so you can gain new visitors. They also provide deeper-dive information for those farther along on their purchasing journey. At Lola.com, we produce two versions of each competitive comparison – a long-form, highly detailed discussion directly accessible on our website, plus a summary PDF available for download. Our sales team loves both of these as offline sales tools, too.
- If you’ve got it, flaunt it. A head-to-head comparison demonstrates your company’s confidence in the usefulness and value of your product.
- Comparisons answer common questions – how are you different? Why should I change? What will you do for me that they don’t? You can introduce or emphasize issues prospects may not have considered.
- Aren’t you merely promoting your competitors? Hardly! Your prospects already know these other companies exist, so you’re not letting the cat out of the bag. You cannot compare without mentioning the target competitor’s name, but you can stick with just that. No links, no logos, just Plain Jane, Inc.
- Accentuate the negative, positively. Sometimes frustrated salespeople resort to bad-mouthing competitors or their products, hoping to turn prospects away from them. Mean-spirited denigration is bad manners and bad for business. It suggests that you are shady or hostile, in a marketplace where people want to buy from people and entities they like. Besides, is your #1 selling point really the fact that your product isn’t as bad as theirs?
One of our company’s competitors also copies marketing content and other things we do. While we feel
flattered, we want the marketplace to know that we are the innovator here. Does this mean you should accede to Mom’s old advice about “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”? No! Mom wasn’t talking about growing your business. If there are flaws or limitations in competitors’ products, you are doing prospects a favor by pointing them out. If your product has more or better features, you have to make those points, too. Showing how you compare, point by point, lets you drive home differentiation positively. Comprehensively.
After all, when you are ranked #1 on Capterra and your negative competitor is ranked #17, prospects
need to know that and know why. So here’s how we handle that at Lola.com. Lola.com has soared to #1 Corporate Travel Management App rating on all major customer review sites; we stand alone compared to competitors when it comes to supporting our travelers -- there for them 24/7/365 with live assistance. You can bet that’s something we note on our competitive comparison pages.
Creating Competitive Comparison Pages that Stand Out
Competitive comparison pages are marketing tools, so creating great pages is the same as creating any other type of great content.
- Decide which competitor(s) to target. Stick to one-on-one comparison with each of them. Aggregating comparisons – your product vs. multiple competitors – can be confusing, and it pulls the focus away from your brand.
- Let your customers do the talking. They tell your story in real-life, relatable ways. They can say things you cannot (or probably should not), and they’re unbiased. Plus, they speak to the most important points – the “why” behind their decision to choose your product and the return they are seeing.
- Lighten up. Humorously poking fun is a great way to make a negative comparison. One great example? We all know the Energizer Bunny just keeps on going (and going and going). But when the toy with the competing battery runs out of juice and falls dead on its face, we giggle. Point made.
- Dress it up. Charts, illustrations, images, screenshots, and other graphics give visual life to your page. Think about how popular infographics are – you can make a lot of points concisely yet emphatically, in a document that’s appealing and easy to understand. Visuals underscore your professionalism (read: objectivity) and reinforce your brand’s personality. Video instead of static photos? Even more engaging. You are building trust and engagement.
- Give them a call-to-action, to keep them engaged. Invite them to attend a webinar, chat with a sales bot, schedule a meeting with a real salesperson, request a demonstration, or download a free trial.
- Link to the pages in your website footer and also key locations such as your blog and product pages.
Prospects are going to compare your product or service with others on the market, no matter what you do. Creating competitive comparison pages does the work for them (they will appreciate that). It ensures they won’t miss or overlook any of your positive features and benefits. Prospects will especially appreciate knowing how you stand out from your competition before they make their buying decision.
Topics: Competitive Intelligence