Dealing with Mudslingers

What to do when your competition tries to erode your brand by causing market confusion.

Cambridge Dictionary:
Mudslinging: Noun Informal
The ​act of saying ​insulting or ​unfair things about someone ​else, esp. to ​damage that person's ​reputation.

Nearly every kid faces playground taunts by someone who calls them awful names in an attempt to appear stronger, smarter, cooler and just plain better than they are. As adults, we know that these bullies try to build themselves up by pointing out other kids’ flaws. It’s a sad example for kids, and is also damaging when this type behavior carries over to the marketplace.

We’re blessed with some of the best clients who supply amazing and market-leading products. Through the years, we’ve worked with our clients to build strong, positive brands and even stronger relationships with our clients. From time to time, a competitor will start sending out marketing messages that not only is their product better, but that our client’s product is worse because it is “old,” “outdated,” expensive.” These lobs are intended to get the marketplace to question our client’s products. We’ve even had one of these “play yard bullies” try to infiltrate our client’s distribution channels, copy collateral pieces (nearly exact replicas) and attempt to hire away our client’s employees! How does one rebut these claims and actions?

The temptation is to immediately retaliate in kind. When you start seeing negative marketing from the competition, take a breath and take a moment to listen to what they are saying. You need to evaluate if their claims match the current marketplace perception of your product. Your competitor might actually be providing you with valuable market insights! To this end, it’s always important to know where your product stands in the market and to innovate through product improvement, new products and new technology. Listen to what your customers are saying. Read their product reviews, survey for impressions of customer service….constantly take this temperature. It allows you to adjust your course before the competition perceives a weakness and takes advantage of it. In short, be the brand your competitor’s are striving to be.

If you already have a pulse on the marketplace and how your product matches up, then don’t be distracted by mudslinging and tailor your messages to positively promote your products’ strengths. Get amazing reviews for customer service? Talk about it. Win an industry innovation award? Shout it out. Let the marketplace know your innovations and how you back your products. This includes promoting your excellent customer service to make the buying process easy. Not only are your products strong, but working with your company made the overall process easy for your customers.

Just like your mom said, “Don’t lower yourself to their level.” Resist the temptation to lower your marketing messaging into a mudslinging battle. It erodes your integrity in the marketplace and acknowledges the competition’s message. You don’t really want to align yourself with your competition and especially not a competitor that is trying to confuse the marketplace with negative messaging. Promote your best.