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What are some great examples of bold — yet tasteful — competitive positioning you've seen in the market? How can companies straddle the line without turning it into a game of finger-pointing?

5 Answers
Desiree Motamedi
Desiree Motamedi
Salesforce CMO - Next Gen PlatformNovember 16

An example that stands out to me was Steve Jobs’ manifesto on Flash and its security problems. What was fascinating about it was actually Adobe’s response to it. They bought full-page ads in newspapers around the world, including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times that said “We Love Apple.” I remember thinking it was a bold but weak response, and Flash’s reign ended shortly after. I feel that was an example of not pushing back hard enough, actually.

1498 Views
Adrienne Joselow
Adrienne Joselow
HubSpot Director of Product MarketingDecember 6

My favorite example is Adidas video which shoes that yes, a runner can sprint through the desert in Nike shoes -- but a camera man with 50 additional pounds of equipment and wearing Adidas can keep up with him. It strikes the balance between saying, we respect your product and - ours is as good or better. Really clear value, clever approach, not so dimishing as to take away from the credibility or respect associated with Adidas' brand. 

Companies can absolutely straddle the line. It's about solving a new problem, solving a problem differently, and disrupting the status quo. The way to do this is focus on the benefit / new value you are delivering rather than simply tearing down a competitor. We offer extended value (strong) vs. they're not as good as you think they are (weak). There's a new way to think about this (stronger) vs. they're thinking about it wrong (weaker). The Bounty ad in the above blog also does a great job of this - no specific paper towel brand is the problem, any brand that isn't using Bounty technology is. Compelling stuff!

6045 Views
Dave Steer
Dave Steer
GitLab Vice President of Product MarketingJanuary 30

The market is littered with really bad examples of competitive messaging, unfortunately. They usually make their case on technical details that are irrelevant to the prospective customer. 

The best competitive positioning doesn't mention competition. After all, why give them air time? Rather, it uses competitive insights to guide positioning strategy -- and the positioning strategy, in turn, guides salient messaging that is relevant to your customers. 

Make the messaging about the problems they have and the unique ways you solve them. And if you do want to integrate your competitors in your messaging to show clearer differentiation, be careful to not pick fights or alienate customers. Again, make the messaging about something that is relevant to the audience and that you do better. 

My favorite example of this is an oldie but goodie. Rental car company Avis was in second place in its market category but scored its customers loved Avis' customer service. So, Avis launched the 'We Try Harder' advertising campaign as a sneaky way to tout its strength (and, note, they did this without mentioning competition by name).

650 Views
Greg Gsell
Greg Gsell
Attentive VP, Product MarketingMarch 23

I will answer this question the total opposite way that you asked it based on something I saw this morning. I was making my son a bagel with cream cheese. The cream cheese had a logo saying "Our cows saw NOOOOO to ABCDE hormone". I am not here to comment on anything to do with farming. What struck me is right next to the logo, in LARGER FONT, was a warning saying "there is no evidence ABCDE hormone has any negative impact". 

I was kind of taken aback. What is the point of anchoring on this differentiation if it is totally made up and you have to state it is totally made up? As marketers you sometimes hear "don't let the truth get in the way of a good story" but in this case, they were so desperate for competitive differentiation that they fudged the truth and told you they were fudging the truth in a larger font. 

Don't do that. 

510 Views
Katie Gerard
Katie Gerard
Workhuman Head of Product MarketingApril 27

The easiest way to differentiate yourself is to have a really innovative product and solid marketing to back it up. My favorite example right now is a Klaviyo customer, Magic Spoon. They make low carb/keto diets for people on a diet but wish they weren't. On their website, they even have a tagline "Hold on to the dream." (The dream of eating sugary cereals guilt free.) They have lots of fun cereal flavors you'd associate with your childhood but they're grain free, low carb, etc. For a certain market, their differentiation just hits home with such clarity because it fills a need in such a unique way. Many people love cereal and many people are on keto diets=perfect example of strong differentiation in a niche market. You can find a competitive matrix on their website that compares them to some of the most popular cereal plans across attributes like how much sugar, protein, and carbs.

This is a throw back but on the tech side the Apple "I'm a mac, I'm a PC" ads are a perfect example of this. Apple used actors to portray their mac as their target customer (young, laid back) and pc as how they wanted their competitor viewed (old, old fashioned, not that smart). The dialogue is basically an illustration of Apple's key differentiators. For example, in one ad PC sneezes and Apple asks him if he's ok. PC says "no, I've got that virus that's going around." It's a charming way of pointing out that PC's were more prone to viruses than macs.

695 Views
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