Comparative advertising is not a new concept. For years, many popular brands have been using it in their marketing campaigns. Comparing your brand, products, or services with your competitors can be a confident move on the way to attract additional customers. It allows consumers to get important information and helps them make unbiased and rational decisions. Broadly speaking, comparative marketing motivates innovation, improvement, and helps balance unsteady markets. On the flip side, there are some risks involved in comparative marketing. As with everything, those who push too far, use unscrupulous methods, and openly bash their competitors, often face ramifications. Sometimes, even legal disputes for their actions. Comparative marketing is all about playing it smart, subtle, and fair while trying to establish your brand, among others.
There is nothing wrong with a little fair and healthy competition. After all, you can hardly find any non-competitive market opportunities today, especially if you are just starting your business and have to face all the challenges. But, it’s essential to distinguish which methods are appropriate to integrate into your marketing campaign and which are not. Many businesses take this approach when they want to differentiate themselves from competitors. On the other hand, straying from what is allowed can lead to some considerable risks. Before you launch your comparative marketing campaign, it’s essential to evaluate all the risks involved.
Before we take a look at the benefits and risks of comparative marketing, let’s first understand what it actually considers.
In general and simple words, comparative marketing is dealing with the comparison of brands. When you want to show the value you are bringing to the market, it’s often necessary to analyze and do good research of your competitors to find something to compare it with. You then demonstrate your advantages, point out potential flaws and offer the appropriate solutions.
However, in reality, it often goes above and beyond the theoretical implications. Sometimes, even giants like Pepsi, Coke, Microsoft, and Apple are not immune to “going a bit too far”. We have seen numerous commercials in the past where they are trying to make fun of their competitors. Often, it is a good and funny advertisement, but there are cases where things didn’t turn out so well.
Comparative Marketing is perfectly legal as long as you stay within specific rules. You should be able to prove all the claims, not try to mislead the audience, and has to act within the boundaries of fairness.
Consumers are often looking for additional information before making purchases. They compare your product to others on the market to make the best out of it. This, along with other factors, opens up opportunities to improve your business. Here, we’ll mention some of the benefits of comparative marketing, should you decide to follow that path:
- Comparative marketing can help you define your brand
- It can boost your brand awareness
- Make your brand look good
- Help you change buyers minds
- Will bring you more customers
Placing yourself in a competitive market and establishing a good brand reputation is not easy, especially for startups and small businesses. But, with a properly carried out competitive marketing strategy, backed up with a quality offer, it’s perfectly doable. This also concerns and helps many businesses when they are trying to penetrate international markets.
When you are new, a large percentage of potential customers are not aware of your existence. Of course, you will carefully develop and deploy various marketing strategies to change this. However, comparative marketing can help you speed things up. Even against popular brands, comparative marketing can help you highlight your advantages and bring you closer to consumers’ minds. Even if you are not new, this strategy will enable you to separate your brand from a plethora of similar others.
Another benefit of comparative marketing is leveraging the flaws of others. As we said, you can explore your market environment to find opportunities to flourish where others fail. You can find others’ weaknesses, make comparisons, and provide the appropriate solutions others cannot offer. As a result, your brand will look good, trustworthy, and with a focus on customers’ needs.
When comparing your products with others, for example, you are pointing to your advantages. This will eventually attract the attention of your targeted audience and those who are meant to use your products. They will be generally satisfied by the option to choose the best product in the category. But only after you give them enough information to make an informed decision.
Of course, one of the most significant benefits is that you will get more potential customers. Carefully crafted comparative marketing will eventually increase your conversions. But not only by the number of new customers. A part of your competitors’ audience might also favor you in the future.
With the internet at everyone’s grasp, it’s easy to create articles, ads, compare you with others, and take the comparative approach. But, before taking this into consideration, you have to estimate yourself as well and conduct an audit of your website. Regular audits are the way to go if you want to ensure you are offering the right and credible information. But you also have to evaluate your other marketing channels and, finally, your comparative marketing plan. This can be a bit of a “slippery ground” since there are some risks involved in the improper use of comparative marketing:
- Competitors may complain and retaliate
- It can backfire on your business
- Possibility to harm your brand and lose customers
- You could end up facing legal actions
While you may have fair intentions, pushing too far with competitive marketing can get you in trouble. If you are not careful, you can easily start an advertising war with your chosen competitors. Calling out other brands and pointing at their flaws publically will eventually force them to answer in a similar manner.
Playing a bit too harsh without paying attention to the message you spread can be a two-edged blade. If you are a large brand that compares itself with a small one, customers might see it as bullying. Instead of getting more customers, the emotional reaction from your targeted audience might be the opposite.
Generally speaking, the wrong implementation, and factors we mention above, will eventually harm your brand. As a result, you will lose potential and even some of your loyal customers.
Finally, one of the worst situations is when you have to face your competitors’ legal actions. With bad comparative marketing, not only can you become a target of other’s marketing campaigns, but they can also file a suit against you. Making false claims against other brands, making them look bad, and trying to mislead customers are all reasons that can easily get you to answer to the law.
Comparative advertising can bring a lot of advantages to your brand. It can help you improve your brand reputation, increase the number of customers and boost sales. However, before you try this approach, there are numerous concerns you should be aware of. If you can find the right approach, follow the rules and legislations, and ensure you are not belittling anyone, comparative marketing can be an excellent way to make your business stand above others.