Content marketing · Pricing strategy

Should I name our competitor in our features comparison table, or does this just amount to free pub?

Anonymous

April 15th, 2016

We are a new entry into a very niche market... we also have a vastly superior product offering to that of our competitors. Our features blow them away, but we are slightly higher in price. My thought was to provide a features-comparison table to justify our pricing relative to theirs. My concern is whether to name them or just say "Us" vs "Them" or "Others", etc.. Thoughts?

UPDATE: 

Thank you all for the excellent feedback. Here's how I've decided to handle this issue:

I already have an excellent "Exclusive Features" section listing our exclusive features. That will stay. However, I will not use the comparison table on my main site, but rather, will create a separate landing page for each competitor. I will use a comparison table but, only compare my product/service to theirs, no one else. I will only list a few of the features which are indisputably in our favor, and will monitor each competitor for updates on a weekly basis.

I will then create a PPC campaign for with ad groups, ads and keywords which only target each competitors name, then point the ads to the corresponding landing page.

This will ensure that the only ones who see the comparison to the competitors are those who already knew of them, and were in fact, searching for them by name.

I will also look into having a 3rd party independently review us both and publish their review to which I will link.

Thanks again.
 

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Rob Enderle Owner, Enderle Group

April 15th, 2016

Doing comparisons is hard to do well. Ideally you want to use an independent third party as the source, one that would be hard for the competitor to disparage (a large customer for instance).  Second if they are larger than you, listing them makes it look like you are in their league.  But the same is true of weaker competitors so you list a bigger one you don’t list a weaker one and instead supply sales with whatever information showcases that you are better.   If you are dominant you don’t even acknowledge you have competitors and simply compare your new products to your old ones favorably here too sales is given tools that showcase why the smaller firm can’t be trusted to execute.   There is some danger in this last because your executives may begin to believe this to be true and eventually become blindsided by a firm that is good enough to get around your defenses.  This suggests that regardless of the FUD you are generating you also make sure decision makers inside the company are aware of the real risk the smaller competitor represents.  Not doing this was largely why IBM went from owning over 90% of the enterprise storage business to being almost completely forced out of it.  

Mark Rosenberg Tax, securities and commercial litigation

April 15th, 2016

I am a former FTC prosecutor, so I have worked with advertising law for many years. If you name your competitors, that is generally fine under advertising law, as long as there is no misrepresentation of their products or prices. Just make sure that you properly identify any trademarks that they use in their products. Feel free to call me at 301-913-0077 if you have any questions that I can assist you with. Thanks. 

Suzanne Shifflet Chief Operating Officer/Chief Financial Officer

April 15th, 2016

I think it adds credibility to your data to disclose the name. Make sure that you are confident that the table can't be refuted! ​

Frances Mann-Craik CEO Addison Marketing; Coach and Advisor to Entrepreneurs

April 18th, 2016

As an unknown, by leveraging competitors' brands you will help your audience quickly determine your "category."  This is a short cut in the sales process (a well-known competitors' brand is an anchor already in your prospects' brains).

It's a smart thing for a startup to do IF:

> You can clearly differentiate your value versus your competitors
> You have evidence 
> You tell the truth.

Jake Carlson Software Development Manager at Oracle

April 15th, 2016

Putting the names of your actual competitors is a double-edged sword. I would only do it if you compare very favorably and can stay current on the status of their features. You definitely don't want that feature comparison table to be misleading. I assume if your product is new that you won't have the mindshare / search engine ranking, so it's likely that potential customers will have seen / be aware of your competitors before you, so I don't see that you have a lot to lose in the sense of accidentally referring prospects to competitors.

Bart Pelsmaeker CEO at Readz

April 15th, 2016

You can most certainly name them. I would even create a specific landing page to that purpose, and set up a CPC campaign for that. Keywords “…alternative to and alike. Second step I would do is try to get the executive message, the higher level messages that talk about benefits injected into that feature comparison. Having better features is cool, but can you say how much more effect those better features will have on the results and bottom line of your customer? “This brings XX% improvement or XX% $”? Good luck, Bart

Eric Fontenay Founder at MusicDish*China 独立小炒, Yaogun (Chinese Rock) Advocate

April 22nd, 2016

There are two strategies I observe which seem correlated. Either, your competitors are well-known, in which case it does no harm to mention them. This is the case of mobile carriers for example touting how their coverage is better than Verizon, or Sprint or T-Mobile or ATT.

In the other case, you mention competitors you want to bring down (ie., usually those that are bigger and/or have more brand recognition), while ignoring those that you would not want to acknowledge as 'true' competitors. This is in part a game of association - by comparing yourself with significant players, you appear to be in their league (and vice versa) as well as not giving undue attention to 'potential' competitors.


Steve King COO, CTO, Netswitch Technology Management

April 22nd, 2016

Always name your competitors and spotlight their worst attributes against yours - don't worry about accuracy - there is so much noise in the markets, bold statements have a chance of standing above the fray - don't be timid - perception is reality - your job is to create perception.

Benjamin Bayat Investor, Illuminate Ventures

April 22nd, 2016

Yes. Any good customer is going to know your competitors anyhow, and if you put their names on a feature comparison, then you get to participate (and possibly control) the conversation...rather then allow the customer to guess or, even worse, your competitors to dominate the conversation.
And if you don't compare favorably, then you have bigger problems than what's on your website. 

Tom Cunniff Founder at Cunniff Consulting, B2B Brand Consultancy

April 15th, 2016

Agree with Jake: do it, but make sure you're doing it the right way.

Especially if you're in a niche, everyone will know who "others" are anyway.

Name your competitors, don't be defensive about price (you aren't "higher cost" , you are "higher value"), and work to define the playing field in a way that benefits you without denigrating your competitors. For example, maybe position competitor X as ideal for smaller customers who need less features and you as ideal for larger customers. Or maybe you are better for some reason for the highest-value customers in the business. Obviously, do this in a way that is true, evidence-based, and defensible. Hope this helps.