Compete messaging is messaging that explains how your product or service compares to the competition in terms of price, value, innovation, service or quality. It’s a critical part of any marketing rollout because not only will it help arm your sales team, but it’ll help your internal and external marketers know how best to position your offering to make it stand out.
Types of compete messaging
Head-to-head positioning: In this type of compete messaging, companies directly compare the individual specs or features of their product to the competitions’ in an effort to get people to switch to or try their product or service. This can be effective if the product or service you’re launching is similar in feature set to what’s out there already, pinpointing the ways in which your product or service is different or superior. This type of compete messaging is used often with technology launches, such as in the Apple vs. PC campaigns, though perhaps the most notable example of head-to-head positioning is the Coke vs. Pepsi challenge.
Benefit-led positioning: A less competitive approach is benefit-led positioning. Here, companies focus on benefits their product or service provides that their competitors don’t—without explicitly calling out the competition. Benefit-led positioning is also useful when there isn’t a lot of competition in the first place, e.g. when you’re launching something new to fill a market need. In that case, you’re “competing” in a different way. For example, if no software tool exists to solve a developer pain point, and you’re launching that software, your “competition” is the old, painful way of doing things.
Going to school on the competition
Just as you go to school on your customers to help create product messaging, you should learn everything you can about your competitors to create compete messaging. Social media and blog audits are a great first step—as what the competition is putting out there for its fans to read can be a competitive positioning goldmine. For example, this blog from Salesforce about its Einstein Voice offers nearly 500 words about the new product’s positioning for potential competitors to uncover. Google Alerts also allow you to monitor the competition with daily newsfeeds for keywords you select.
Another way to conduct competitive research is to survey your customers. Ask them about your product’s or service’s feature sets versus the competitions’ to develop head-to-head positioning—or about pain points to inform benefit-led positioning.
According to Inc., “Conducting a competitive assessment should be an ongoing process, one in which you continue to deepen your understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors.” Inc. lists the following benefits companies can achieve from conducting ongoing competitive research:
- Understanding the market
- Better targeting customers
- Forecasting the potential for the market
- Figuring out how the economic climate impacts the market
- Understanding what competitors are offering
- Keeping tabs on competitors' prices and pricing structures/models
- Determining offerings in ancillary markets
- Finding new customers
Communicating the message
Just like your product or service messaging, your compete messaging should tell a story. What is the main problem that your product or service is solving that your competitors aren’t? How are you solving it better? Why should the target audience care—and what should it do next? Compete messaging can help make or break awareness or even trial for a new product or service, so it’s worth taking the time to make sure it’s as solid as your internal and external messaging.