What does the customer think when you don’t take the high road?

Why you should ignore your competition and not engage them in a competition.

What do your customers think when you fall into the trap of bashing your competitor instead of taking the high road and staying focused on them instead?

I recently read an article about two local St. Louis attorneys who participated in a panel discussion about marketing within the legal profession. The two attorneys "let barbs fly" during this discussion. Hopefully these two attorneys don't have the same lack of values when it comes to doing business.

Their exchange begs the question: what is gained by criticizing your competitor in a public forum, or in your marketing strategy? Personally I see nothing is gained and in fact you have likely lost valuable ground because you have legitimized and acknowledged your competition. In fact, you have created a comparison between you and your competition that may not have occurred in the first place. Now every time a prospect hears a marketing message about one attorney, they think of the competing firm. I have never needed the services of either firm, but I personally have a link between both of them. And the link is not a positive one.

When it comes to professional services, such as hiring a marketing or PR firm or a lawyer, often times people think: “I’m going to talk to three firms before I make a decision.” Yet in all reality, people rarely interview multiple firms unless it’s through a Request for Quotes (RFQ) process. Instead, they make their decision based on referrals, word of mouth and reputation. So the key is to maintain a positive reputation.

In order to do so, it’s best when you take the high road and refrain from falling prey to volleying poisonous barbs with your competitors. Operating from high values instead results in a brand and reputation people respect and support. Your brand becomes positive and strong because you end up with a reputation people are happy to connect with; they value your positive, forward-thinking messages.

Can people connect with nasty barbs? Absolutely. A comment in the article cited one of the attorneys as saying that the expected turmoil was worth the price of admission for this specific conference. He had settled for drama and entertainment, but not necessarily good marketing.

In the end, customers don't care about you as much as they care about their experience of working with you. So before you fall into the trap of behaving in ways that set a competitor bad mouthing you, remember it’s smarter and more profitable to take the high road. In doing this, you are more likely to focus on what you want to deliver and your prospects remember that you have their interests in mind above all else.

For more information on this topic and other marketing and PR strategies and practices, visit www.kolbeco.net or contact me at 636-379-3895 x 13.