12 hours ago — 5 min read
Summary: An absolute moment of horror for any entrepreneur is to witness a competitor blatantly imitating your product or service. SME expert Dhananjay Parkhe shares an anecdote of how he beat imitators at their own game by coming up with a smart counter strategy.
I’ll never forget the day one of my competitors began imitating our products and services. At first it was flattering or at least I told myself so, in order to not lose my calm. I kept repeating to myself that it’s competition that makes the world go round.
But after several months of seeing the increasing similarity between the nature and frequency of our advertisements, size of the products, publications, and later showing up at the same trades hows, I decided that it was time I did something about it.
The superiority and stability of our product was greater than that of our competitors. It was annoying to see them capitalise on our advertising efforts and piggyback on our success by having a similar product. Reading and hearing their claims of how our product was trash, led me to take action. I decided to give them a taste of their own medicine. I did so in an upfront, aggressive but however legit way, that ended my competition’s trade show appearances once and for all.
We used their negative comments and turned them into an advertising campaign, that led to the downfall of their product. But it didn’t end there. Due to the similarity in our product, we often received bitter phone calls from clients about the product they had purchased from our competitor. So many calls started pouring in each month that we played it smart and used this to our advantage. We started offering a discount on our product if customers switched companies. All they had to do was send us their non-working competing product and we discounted our product (usually 30%, sometimes more if needed) and shipped it to them with a full warranty, guarantee and support.
The offer of a ’switch’ did several things for us.
It made our company better known than our competitor. Customers couldn’t believe we would actually take a ‘dead’ trade-in, and exchange with our superior working product. Knowing that we didn’t manufacture the inferior product surprised them.
It increased our sales. By fielding the ‘unhappy camper’ calls that we were receiving by mistake, we turned them into ‘happy campers’ calls.
Our reputation as ’the good guys’ became even more pronounced. Customers throughout our industry were singing praises about our customer service and our product popularity.
Customers began to advertise our product for us. Many of our customers supplied us with personal written testimonies that were then used in trade magazine publications and displayed at industry trades hows.
As if this wasn’t enough, we then began to publicise various offers while attending national and international trade shows. This was by far the most effective and best ‘kill your competition’ move we’ve ever done in our entire 21 years in business.
Remember when I mentioned that they claimed our product was nothing but garbage? Well, if you listen closely enough to your competition’s rhetoric, you can create great opportunities from your adversities. We did just that and came out with sound action and documentation to prove their claim wrong. It is a known fact that documentation beats conversation and we had the hard evidence that our competitor’s product was well, trash!
At trade shows, we came up with a clever way to allow the customers first-hand experience of the inferior product of the competitor and draw a comparison with our superior quality.
This is how we were able to outsmart imitators and create an opportunity from a seeming challenge.
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Dhananjay Jay Parkhe
Dhananjay (Jay) Parkhe Global Goodwill Ambassador. Mentor Author Speaker Coach CSR, Advisor, Educator, Independent Director Bengaluru Area, India
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Global Goodwill Ambassador. Mentor Author Speaker
Dhananjay Parkhe / Bengaluru, India