Superman vs. Lex Luther.
Batman vs. The Joker.
Pepsi vs. Coca-Cola.
Burger King vs. McDonald’s.
Chick-fil-A vs. Popeye’s.
Every good story comes with a good-ol’-fashioned competition. And, as a society, we’re thankful for it. After all, how else would we have spent hours of our time if Popeye’s hadn’t sold out of chicken sandwiches last year and we had to call all over town to find where they were still available?
No? Just us…?
The point is that a little competition is good for everyone. It’s what keeps things interesting. In fact, some of the best marketing campaigns have stemmed from these well-known frenemies.
Everyone remembers these ads from the 90s, and we can all say we’ve experienced the pain that comes with a PC freezing, so these commercials were pretty on point. (Lest you can’t tell, I’m on #teammacforever).
Remember when Burger King went rogue and started giving whoppers away based on geolocating McDonald’s restaurants? That was a thing that happened.
“Genesis does what Nintendon’t.” I’m not a gaming expert, but I know this clash was definitely a classic frenemies situation.
Competition fuels ingenuity, which is why we think you should celebrate when your top competitor has a big win… and why you should always be on the lookout for other companies who are doing what you do, even if they’re doing what you do a little bit better than you are at times.
We all feel the effects of a crowded marketplace, and our initial instinct is to fall back to our old strategies and playbooks. Things like throwing a bunch of money into the same Facebook Ads that worked great the year before, pumping out a bunch of (boring) content (that no one will probably read) onto a blog, or sending out way too many emails.
I know because we’ve been there at DigitalMarketer.
That’s why late last year we broke free from the chains of these habits.
*que Hold On by Wilson Phillips*
In early November, we divided the company into teams to go head-to-head in a competitive analysis challenge. We wanted to dive deep into everything our competitors were doing (and everything we weren’t doing). The challenge took on a life of its own because, did we mention… competition fuels ingenuity. ☝️
Each team included a member from marketing, content, design, customer care, and product. The goal was to conduct a full analysis of our top 5 competitors through every channel to see what they were doing right and also where we could improve. Each team needed to analyze and present a “Keep, Start, Stop,” which is simply 5 things to keep doing, 5 things to start doing, and 5 things to stop doing. We took a month to complete the project, and by the end, we had a good indication of our gaps in all categories.
The key to making your business Frenemies your best friends is to LEVERAGE your competitors and figure out what makes your brand or product unique and to use that information to get innovative in the market.
You have to figure out how you are different and show the world how those differences make you amazing.
Think about the ads above. What do they all have in common? Well, for starters, they’re all pointing out something they can offer that their competitor can’t:
Mac can’t catch a virus.
Burger King has Whoppers.
Sega has Genesis.
Every business has their Whopper.
Find something that is going to make people stop and think: hey, I need that. In copywriting, we call this a “hook.” What is going to make someone stop in their tracks and check out your product? And honestly, it doesn’t have to be revolutionary.
Take Boie for example, this brand recently scaled their marketing campaigns across the board.
Want to know something that’s not really a secret? There’s nothing particularly unique about Boie. Just look what happens when I type in “silicone face scrubber” into Amazon…
Yes, there’s about 1,345,238,361 of the exact same product. So why exactly did I buy THIS product? (Yes, I actually bought it). First off, they found the right audience in me. I’m a millennial that likes colorful skincare products. But even after they hit the right target demographic, there was a lot more (but not too much more) that inspired me to buy.
Boie also told me their product was antimicrobial, which piqued my interest because my dermatologist had told me that sponges and the soft bristle brushes can house a lot of bacteria.
Then they told me my new silicone face scrubber is recyclable and BPA-free. Only criminals and puppy-haters don’t want to help the environment.
And then came the kicker: I learned that this product can last up to 6 months, and knowing that I typically have to replace my loofah every couple months, this seems like a decent deal, especially for $10.
I bought it. Like any good puppy-loving, environmental savvy, budget-conscious millennial who likes to take care of her skin should.
But here’s the thing: Are the “other” products above also probably recyclable? Yes. They are made out of the same material.
Does that mean they will also last 6+ months? Probably…
What Boie did that the other companies didn’t was take advantage of the major selling points to market the heck out of their little face scrubbers. Boie turned those selling points into ads and followed their target audience around the web to make it more convenient than ever to buy.
These tactics work for a reason. Which is why I’m going to recommend that you do a competitive analysis right now (yes, today)… because frenemies, right? What makes frenemies important is that you can evaluate both their strengths and weaknesses and then learn and pivot your business using that insight. Use your competitors to make yourself better!
In the SEO world, this is called a “Skyscraper Strategy,” playing off the idea that you learn from your competitors and then build on top of them in the search results. It’s also used frequently in the creative industry. Have you ever heard the quote “there’s no such thing as a new idea.” In a sense, it’s true. New and creative ideas typically stem from an old and dated idea that someone reworked and made fresh again.
To be clear, I’m not telling you to go steal all your competitors’ content and blame us when you’re charged for copyright infringement. But what I am saying is use the good ideas your competitors have and build off them in a way that can work for YOUR business.
By focusing on what your business can provide, you’ll find your niche.
We did this as recently as last month at DM. You may remember when we opened up DM Lab for free during most of March? Want to know why we made that decision? To start, we wanted to find a way to help our community. We didn’t have anything physical to offer during a global pandemic so our leaders tried to think of a way we could give back. We knew we had the training and tools to help people start over and launch new careers, and we knew these skills would be super important for workers facing a crumbling economy.
But do you want to know what else we noticed? No one in our industry was offering any kind of marketing training or support for free. To be fair, we know that many companies may not have had the means or funding to just give away a product for free, and they were also struggling to just get by.
But we saw there was a gap in relief efforts (so to speak). So we wanted to step in. And while we knew we weren’t going to bring in much revenue for the month of March, we also knew that in a competitive marketplace, we were the ones that could bring some kind of relief to small businesses or anyone needing to make a shift in their career.
So we did. And people noticed. So many people noticed, in fact, that we actually generated 60k+ new (free) accounts on our platform during that month. We also welcomed 3k+ people into our private, online community. While we weren’t able to grow our revenue in March, we were able to grow our audience and our reach exponentially, which will most certainly help us in the future. There were a lot of factors behind this, but it started simply because we saw a hole that needed to be filled given the current environment.
We saw a way that we could be different. And we went with it.
Whichever way you swing it, competition and frenemies are always going to be around. There will always be a Pepsi to your Coca-Cola, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to give up. It means it’s time to get creative!
These past few months have sparked a resurgence of creativity in our world. We’re seeing more pivots and twists and turns than ever before, from artists to businesses. It’s something special that’s happening.
So if you’re a little stressed out and not sure where to turn, look to your neighbor (physically or in business) for some help. Find out what people are working on and try something different or WAY out of the box. Take a big risk. Launch a product you never thought you would.
After all, would the Big Mac have ever been created had there not been a Whopper? The world may never know.