When you have a product worth bragging about, it’s tempting to place it next to your competition’s less-impressive version. Taylor Holland says that’s a mistake, however, in her Skyword article, “Why There’s No Place for Product Comparison in Content Marketing.” In fact, she says product comparison is outdated and can harm your brand.
Holland first walks us through the various product comparison practices that reflect poorly on your brand, also explaining why this particular marketing strategy is no longer effective in advertising today. By the end of this article, you will be better equipped to market your brand without acknowledging the competition.
Product Comparison Practices That May Harm Your Brand
Mocking the Competition
As fun or as tempting it may be to mock your competition, Holland says when you do this, you’re doing them a favor. How? By giving them airtime. Additionally, insulting the competition is very unprofessional and bitter, making you look hostile to your customers. Take, for instance, Holland’s example of Sprint’s commercial during this year’s Super Bowl. In the commercial, robots mock their creator for using Verizon instead of Sprint. To add insult to injury, not only does Sprint mention the brand name “Verizon,” it also implies that customers who use Verizon are less intelligent for doing so.
“‘Don’t mention the competition’ is an important marketing rule,” says Holland. “Even more important: don’t call your audience stupid.”
Comparing Your Brand with the Competition’s
To best demonstrate the ineffectiveness of comparing yourself to your competition, Holland refers to Chevy’s “Real People. Not Actors” campaign. In the commercials, Chevy shows two vehicles to “real people,” not hired actors, pointing out all the awards Chevy vehicles have won and the reasons they are better than Ford’s. Then, the spokesperson asks the people which vehicle they would choose, Chevy or Ford. Of course, the people always choose Chevy.
When consumers watch people share their opinion of your brand in commercials or video ads, they know those people are biased. If product comparisons are no longer effective, what strategies should you use instead? Here are three alternatives to product comparison.
3 Alternatives to Product Comparison
1. Feature Customer Reviews
Social media and review sites such as Yelp are more trustworthy sources for brand comparisons than those that come from the brands themselves. If you want your audience to perceive your brand in a more positive light in comparison to your competitors, invite customers to write reviews and then showcase those reviews on your website, in your ads, and on your social media pages. Your audience will trust the insights of real customers who have interacted with your ads, customers who are not biased.
“Yes, product comparisons are still alive and well,” says Holland. “They’re just far more believable when they come from real people, not brands.”
If you receive reviews that happen to say your brand is better than your opponents, then all the more power to you! Showcase those reviews.
2. Tell Your Brand’s Story
Far more effective than product comparison, storytelling leaves your audience with a positive perception of your brand. Plus, telling a story is a far more interesting and a less annoying method of promoting your brand.
Holland uses Airbnb as an example of a brand that uses storytelling well in its advertising messages. The brand focuses on highlighting the experiences of travelers and sharing stories about properties and property owners. You’ll notice that they tell these stories all without insulting the competition. As a result, you don’t walk away from Airbnb ads with a bad taste in your mouth.
3. Highlight the Ways Your Product or Service Solves Customers’ Problems
You can also make your brand look good by highlighting your product or service’s solution to problems. For example, if you sell a powerful, grease-fighting dish soap, highlight your dish soap’s ability to thoroughly and easily clean greasy dishes. Take Vicks NyQuil as another example. NyQuil acknowledges its audience’s problem: sleeping with a fever and a stuffy nose. NyQuil offers the solution: an over-the-counter medicine that helps you sleep symptom-free.
You’d be amazed at how much more effective these strategies are than product comparison. In the end, it all boils down to brand trust. Does comparing your brand to competitors make your brand more trustworthy? Most likely not. Additionally, you want to achieve a successful campaign without getting your hands dirty. Keep your campaign clean and comparison-free. It will make your success sweeter.