David Meerman Scott waxes poetic on the “competition”

“Watch your competition, just don’t follow them.” I heard this recently, I don’t remember where but it reminded me of a recent mantra of mine “what you resist persists”. So, while it is important to observe your enemies, just don’t spy on them, because as we resist the enemy, we become the enemy. This brings us, quite conveniently, to my third instalment on the competition. I asked author, speaker, marketing strategist and inbound marketing Guru David Meerman Scott to answer a few questions on the hot topic of “competition”.

1. How do you define “the competition”?

Competition is what second rate organizations compare themselves to and try to copy because they don’t understand buyers and create valuable products to help them solve problems. Most executives have a relentless focus on the direct competition and use that as a benchmark for comparison. They look at the competition’s products, price, marketing and try to do the same but with an incremental increase. But the strategy of comparisons to your close competitor means that you are likely to become a “me too” that’s just a little better, faster, or cheaper. That’s no position to be in. For example, in highly regulated industries like pharmaceutical, healthcare, and finance, the competition is very likely to follow the pack and be fearful of engaging the market with compelling content and social media. Comparing to this market means you’d also be fearful and say “no”. If all the hospitals in my area don’t have a YouTube channel, why should we?

2. What is important and what is not important when it comes to monitoring the competition?

The coolest thing is to follow a competitor in order to engage in some newsjacking of what they do. Newsjacking: is the art of injecting your ideas into a breaking news story to generate tons of attention and grow business and is the subject of my most recent book News Jacking.

Imagine a huge company announces it is to acquire one of your competitors. It hit the wires five minutes ago. What would you do right now? Not tomorrow. Now. How about writing a blog post about it in real-time? That’s what Joe Payne, CEO of Eloqua did when Oracle announced the acquisition of Market2Lead, a company that is also in the marketing automation arena. Joe checked his blackberry and saw that the announcement had just been made. The Oracle announcement contained only a North Korea style one-paragraph announcement. So Joe realized that there was a tremendous opportunity RIGHT NOW to write a blog post and define what the announcement meant. In his post Oracle joins the party published a few hours later, Joe said (in part): “I expect Oracle’s entry to make a major difference in the attention paid to this sector. It’s going to open marketers’ eyes, and, as a result, expand the market. This is exactly the type of movement this industry needs. You see, the potential market for lead management systems is less than 10 percent penetrated.” Eloqua CEO owns the soundbite. Can you see what Joe did? Oracle announces an acquisition but provides almost no details. The media is hungry for something to say and someone to quote. Bingo, a Google search pops up Joe’s post and now reporters, analysts, and bloggers have an authority to cite in their stories. As a result of this real-time market commentary, Eloqua became an important part of the resulting stories in places like BusinessWeek, InfoWorld, Customer Experience Matrix, PC World, and Customer Think

Now, when people want to learn about this transaction, they find Eloqua in the discussion. If you’re an analyst coving the market category or an existing customer of Market2Lead or are evaluating marketing automation platforms, Eloqua becomes someone you should consider. But here’s the really important part. Within two weeks of this blog post, Eloqua closed a deal with software company Red Hat that was worth more than $500,000 over two years. They also closed with TRUSTe, a major Internet privacy services company. The half dozen new Eloqua customers gained from this real-time communications effort combined to generate just under $1 million in business—business directly related to Payne’s real-time blog post.

3. Have you had a client blindsided by the competition, how did they react, how did you want them to react?

Good = Newsjacking.
Bad = Defensive, me too.

4. Any final words of wisdom as it relates to the competition? 

If you obsess over the competition, your business suffers.


David Meerman Scott is a marketing strategist, bestselling author of eight books including three international bestsellers, advisor to emerging companies, and a professional speaker on topics including marketing, leadership, and social media. He’s an internationalist, having delivered presentations in 36 countries on six continents.

David serves as an advisor to emerging companies including HubSpot, Eloqua, VisibleGains, Speakerfile, GutCheck, and Newstex, as well as nonprofits including the Grateful Dead Archive at UC Santa Cruz and HeadCount.

Check out David’s blog at www.WebInkNow.com and download his book “World Wide Rave: Creating Triggers that Get Millions of People to Spread Your Ideas and Share Your Stories,” now completely free as a PDF (with no registration required) and on Kindle, iPad, Nook, and Kobo ebook readers. www.WorldWideRave.com