Why Your Blog Should Talk About the Competition…a Lot

by Marcus Sheridan

There is this unwritten law online that companies aren’t supposed to talk about other companies. Competitors aren’t supposed to talk about competitors. Brands and products should not be compared. Names should not be dropped.

I call bull on all of it.

Actually, let me check that for a second….I call bull on all of it if you’re serious about building your brand and becoming a go-to source of information for those in your industry (i.e. thought leader).

Hey Marcus, Where should I spend my money?

In the last 3 days, I’ve received 8 emails from consumers in the swimming pool industry asking me to choose which brand of pool they should go with and/or what contractor they should use for their project.

Think about that for a second. People I’ve never “met” are leaving it in my hands as to where they spend their $50,000 (take or give a few bucks).

And why are they doing this? I can tell you this much—it’s not because I’m particularly cool or awesome.

Frankly, the reason is simple—My swimming pool blog talks about subjects no one else talks about. We compare brands. We compare companies. We talk about best and worst practices of pool builders.

For years, fiberglass pools were improperly built on sand due to the erroneous teachings of certain manufacturers. This article attacked the subject head on and lead to major change in the industry.

And because we do, people all over the world trust us.

Brand Comparison of Other Products

To give you an example of what I’m talking about, I once wrote an article about two of the major fiberglass pool manufacturers in my industry—Trilogy and Viking Pools—about two years ago. Even though at the time I neither sold Trilogy nor Viking, I still felt it my responsibility to compare the two companies, as many customers in the past had asked me to do just that.

And like any great content marketer/blogger, when I hear a question, that almost always means I need to write about it.

Since publishing that post, the article has been read thousands and thousands of times. It ranks first page of Google for many keyword phrases. But even more importantly, it tackles a subject that consumers in the fiberglass pool industry want and need to know, therefore raising the brand and trust factor that is associated with River Pools.

Here is a screen shot showing one of the comments on the Viking vs. Trilogy post. In fact, the majority of the comments on this post are asking us at River Pools to help the reader choose the right brand and contractor for their swimming pool.

Since starting my blog at River Pools, I’ve written dozens of articles just like this one, and all have done very, very well from an SEO, social, and branding perspective.

Brand Comparison of Your Products

With The Sales Lion, there is really no difference in the strategy. In fact, if you look at some of the most successful articles I’ve written here in terms of reads, leads, and results, many follow this same pattern.

As an example, The Sales Lion brand  is often looked upon as the “consumer voice” of HubSpot, which only makes sense considering I’ve talked so much about them over the past few years. Sometimes I praise their efforts, sometimes I question their strategy, and then other times I compare them with others.

Case in point, many times since starting TSL business owners and marketers have asked me if WordPress or HubSpot would be the best solution for their web marketing. After hearing this question so often, I knew my only choice was to write an extensive post about it, which I did here:

If someone is asking you the question, you should be writing about it…

If you read that post, you’ll likely be surprised by one main thing—brutal honesty.

In other words, in that article I freely admit that HubSpot isn’t the best fit for every business, as it really comes down to the unique needs of that company and/or individual.

This is the key to talking about others in your industry—honesty. If you’re going to discuss the pros and cons of another product, brand, etc.—then you need to be able to do the same with your products and brands. Just because I’m a HubSpot partner doesn’t mean I’m not going to hold their feet to the fire as much as I would anyone else.

For the most part, few companies have been able to manage this properly, as their style is typically less educational, more attack and/or salesy.

Countless Content Opportunities

When it comes down to it, for those companies that are willing to talk about the competition and other products (in a factual and accurate manner), there is a content goldmine just waiting to be discovered. If you want to see exactly what I’m talking about, do the following activity, which I’ll keep short and sweet so as to keep things simple:

1. Write down every product/service your company sells.

2. Write down every comparable product/service sold by other companies (your competition).

3. Compare each with a blog post.

4. Make a list of everything you disagree with in your industry. (If you love what you do, this list will be long.)

5. Write about each in a blog post.

As I said above, this activity could be much longer, but by doing the 5 steps I just mentioned you will likely have between 50-100 new articles to write…which isn’t too shabby.

But as I mentioned before, be honest. Keep it real. Tell it like it is. Be willing to answer on your website the same questions you answer face to face all the time.

By so doing, your brand and voice will grow. Consumers will look to you as a leader. So will the search engines.

And ultimately, leads and sales will grow too.

Your Turn

Why are companies so afraid to talk about the competition and compare brands/products online? Also, have you experimented with any of this and what have been the results?

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts so jump right in folks.

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