How to Ethically Outmarket Your Competition

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“You can beat the competition without attacking them…”

As a small business owner, few things are worse than having a prospective buyer who’s on the edge of spending money with you…

…disappear and spend that money with one of your competitors.

Especially when you know what you’re selling is far superior to the competition.

So how do you communicate to your prospects that what you’re selling is the best choice, without tearing down your competition?

Being “Better” Isn’t Enough

Sadly, most business owners approach this by playing the Better Game.

“Our food is better.  Our waves are better.  Our experts are better.”

Sadly, “better” is hard for the human brain to grasp.

While it’s easy to understand why a Porsche is superior to a Honda, it’s not so easy when we’re selling an experience.

As an example, imagine two surf retreats – in the same geographic area – competing against each other.

Is shouting about how your resort has better waves – or better food – really going to persuade a stranger to pick one company over the other?

Consumers Don’t Trust Claims

No, because even if it’s true, the human brain can’t put a monetary value on “better.”

Further, when we see a business making these kinds of claims, our natural assumption is that they’re lying – or at least exaggerating – to boost their image and therefore sales.

So what’s the more effective solution?

Let’s go back to the surf retreat example.  As you may or may not know, surf retreats come in all shapes and sizes.

Some have waves that go left, some have waves that go right, and some have both.  Some serve beginners, some serve all skill levels, and some are for advanced surfers only.

So, imagine we have two resorts on the same island.  And let’s say Resort A wants to appeal to as many people as possible.

To do this, they market to families with kids, solo surfers, girls groups, couples, longboarders, shortboarders, stand up paddlers (ewwwww), body boarders, etc.

Different is Better than “Better”

So, what can Resort B do to separate themselves from the pack in a way that drives business?

First, they can identify the segment of the market most likely to spend the most money with them.  Which, depending on their location, would probably be advanced surfers or families/groups.

For this example, let’s say it’s advanced surfers.  To appeal to advanced surfers, Resort B can look at how Resort A is marketing itself…then push hard in the opposite direction.

Resort A serves families and couples?

No non-surfers or kids allowed.

Resort A serves longboarders and stand-up paddlers?

Shortboarders only.

Resort A allows groups of bros to come through and party?

10pm curfew, no alcohol served after that.

Never Attack the Competition Head-on

Ya see, if Resort B were to come out and start discussing why someone shouldn’t go to Resort A, for example:

  • Do you really want to end up in a room next to three crying toddlers?
  • Do you want really want to share your waves with a bunch of bodyboarders who can drop in way deeper than you?
  • Do you really want to get stuck with a bunch of bros making noise all night?

…it would come across as desperate and needy.

Like the “nice guy” who complains how women always leave him in favor of some motorcycle riding bad boy.

Give ’em What They Want

However, by identifying what’s important to your best clients, you can explore where your competitors are doing a poor job of marketing to / serving that segment.

Then, rather than attack them, you put a heavy focus on the elements that will appeal to the people who make up that segment.

But that’s not all.

Lead Them to the Desired Conclusion

Because by calling attention to something that’s important to your Perfect Prospects, they’ll have no choice but look for that “thing” in the competition.

Which means, if your competition is weak in that area, or doesn’t discuss it in their marketing whatsoever…

…you will have invalidated them without ever mentioning them by name.

The result?

Rather than trying to convince total strangers your resort is “better,” they come to that conclusion on their own.