Yesterday, I read a really interesting blog post on Search Engine Journal by Tom Demers entitled 5 Reasons Why It’s OK To Mention Competitors In Your Content. Funnily enough, this post struck an instant chord with me, as it almost word for word echoed a conversation I had with one of my clients a week or so ago. So, I thought I’d share it with you so that you can see just how right Tom Demers is about this very valid point!
As the title of the blog suggests, Tom’s post listed 5 reasons why writing about your competitors in your content marketing can be a positive thing; I obviously don’t want to go over everything again that Tom wrote, as he made his points very eloquently and you’re perfectly capable of reading it for yourself. Instead, I’ll give you Tom’s reason’s summarised and then relate them to my client and the answers I gave her.
I’ll just briefly tell you a little bit about my client. Guy Wakeling Jewellery (who from now on I will call GWJ, because I’m lazy) are a bespoke family jewellers based in Preston, Lancashire and, although they have been trading for almost 30 years, they recently commissioned a new website via which they intend to sell their new ranges of bought-in jewellery, in addition to the bespoke and restoration services they currently offer.
Husband and wife team, Guy and Katie Wakeling, approached GrowTraffic to initially build the new e-commerce website and then to optimise it; as you can image, launching a brand new jewellery e-commerce website into a somewhat saturated market is taking some rather intense content marketing, but we have managed to increase the traffic significantly in just the first 3 months.
One tactic we decided would be helpful in growing the website’s traffic would be to write a series of blog posts about the UK’s expanding market in fashion and costume jewellery, specifically by doing several ‘Spotlight on The Best Of British’ pieces, detailing the work of the leading jewellery houses operating out of the UK at the moment. The benefits of this, as I will explain below, are numerous but after publishing the first of these blog posts on the GWJ website, Katie effectively – albeit very politely – asked me what the heck I thought I was doing!
As Tom Demers states in his post, this is a completely understandable response from business owners, who only see this approach as giving free advertising to their competitors. I therefore accepted Katie’s question and was happy to explain the reasons behind it; I get that she’s paying GrowTraffic to write about GWJ, not about Chopard or CARAT*, but the benefits to GWJ are so much greater than the benefits to the other jewellery houses, and here’s why.
Tom’s Reason 1: Most Businesses Aren’t Zero Sum Games
The language in that statement is a bit American, but his point (I think) is that no business exists in a vacuum, but rather within an industry and what benefits one business in that industry will ultimately benefit them all.
Here, GWJ operates within the highly competitive jewellery industry, which is a £billion+ industry each year and growing rapidly. OK, admittedly a few blogs from little old me aren’t going to change this industry’s fate but, as Mr Tesco says, every little helps!
What’s more, promoting the larger and more lucrative jewellery houses will only help the smaller jewellers, who are very often selling much more affordable versions of the £10s-of-thousand versions being peddled by the larger and posher jewellers; essentially, show the customers the prohibitively expensive designer version, then sell them the version they can afford.
This point follows on from the one above and is a mistake born, according to Tom, out of ego; basically, the business owner thinks that their product is so brilliant that it will do everything and more that the next company’s product will do, and so they think everyone is their competitor.
In the case of GWJ, whilst on the surface all the businesses in question are selling jewellery, in reality their products are vastly different. So for example, the average price range for the jewellery that GWJ sell through their bought-in collections is between £25 – £250; for the bespoke service, it’s a little harder to quantify as each piece is unique, but the average price is in the £thousands. For most of the jewellery houses that either have or will be featured in this blog series, however, their products range in price from between £80,000 – £300,000 and upwards.
Even if, as with the odd jeweller, the price range of the products is fairly similar between GWJ and the guest jewellery houses, the products themselves differ greatly; such is the case with CARAT*, who sell high end imitation costume jewellery, as opposed to genuine diamonds or other precious stones.
Hence, there is actually very little – if any – cross-over between customers for the two markets and, where there is, it’s not for a product that GWJ offer anyway, so the competition angle is largely irrelevant.
Tom’s Reason 3: People Frequently Know About Your Competitors Already
One of the key angles with SEO is to tap into something that people are already searching for; one of the fastest ways of getting your blog or website to the top of the SERPs now is to attach yourself to something that is already there – in fact, there’s a whole industry that has now grown up around this tactic.
The beauty of GWJ being a jeweller is that we have two markets that we can tap into here; jewellery and celebrities. Celebrities are famed for wearing ridiculously expensive – mostly loaned – jewellery to posh functions and lavish ceremonies and, more often than you might at first imagine, lots of people want to look at photos of said celebrities. Lately, increasing numbers of fashion jewellers are cottoning on to this and so they are not only loaning more expensive pieces out but are also more willing to let Freelance SEO Copywriters like me publish the details – with free use of their photos.
This means that I now have an even bigger hook to get people to read GWJ’s blog, as with one I recently published about Uma Thurman and Emily Blunt wearing Anna Hu jewellery to the 2015 Met Gala, and can use the success of the bigger, more well-known names to promote the less well-known brand.
Tom’s point here is that garnering respect from your competitors may benefit your own business further down the line because no business stays stagnant forever, so this year’s competition may become next year’s ally or even acquisition.
That’s certainly true but, for my part, I look at this slightly differently and would even go so far as to say that a friendly relationship with your competitors will most definitely benefit you. The power of good PR has long been recognised in the business world and, in my opinion, growing your company’s online presence requires just as much good PR online as well as offline. The mutual benefits of being nice and helping your fellow business associates out – within reason, of course – far outweigh any potential disadvantages.
And so, with GWJ, I contacted the Marketing/Press teams of the jewellery houses directly, telling them of my planned blog and asking them if there was any information they would particularly like me to discuss, plus I asked for a couple of images that I could use to illustrate the piece. Admittedly some of the companies have either declined or ignored me but the majority of them were happy to oblige, after all, it is free publicity and, if nothing else, they get an authoritative link to their website.
This approach has the double benefit that we both get GWJ’s name out and known within the industry and we also build bridges and start to form good working relationships with the leading lights of the jewellery world.
Tom’s Reason 5: Talking Honestly About Competitors Makes Your Content More Versatile and Trustworthy
Tom’s point is twofold here; firstly that, if you spend all your time telling your customers how great your product is, without ever admitting that it may have areas it is weak in – or even fails in, then your audience will get tired of hearing it, stop believing you and switch off. Secondly, that if you tell your customers honestly when a competitor’s product surpasses yours, then they’ll believe you when you tell them later that your revised product now surpasses your competitor’s. It’s not just canny thinking, it’s true.
That point is not entirely transferable in the case of GWJ, but I do believe that, by not just banging on about GWJ all the time and by discussing other jewellers instead, we don’t bore the audience and we demonstrate that GWJ have their finger on the pulse of the British jewellery industry and are thus a reliable source of knowledge and expertise.
Rachel’s Reasons 6 & 7: The Bonuses!
As I said at the beginning, I’m completely with Tom in everything that he has said here; all of his points are excellent and, in my experience, have proven themselves to be true not just with this client but with many of my others too. However, there are 2 bonus points that I’d additionally like to add myself;
The first is that discussing your competitors in your blog just simply gives you something else to talk about, a fact that should never be sniffed at in this current world dominated by the ever-hungry, never-ending content creation machine.
The second is that, by using this tactic, you can very often wangle yourself some royalty free images with which to illustrate your blog, which is again a fact that can save you – and in turn your client – a small fortune over time!
All in all, using your blog to talk to your customers about your competitors is a completely valid practice and I for one am going to carry on using it, and if your client’s think you’re certifiably bonkers, then just show them this blog post!